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BY MEGAN PALIN

The NSW Wildlife Rescue, Information and Education Service (WIRES) is organising an orang-utan spotting trek through Borneo next year to raise funds for rescuing and rehabilitating Australian animals.

The organisation is calling for volunteers to fundraise and participate in the event. WIRES spokesperson Jilea Carney said its yearly major fundraising event was a trip to a wildlife destination overseas.

‘This year we are asking people to raise $6000 each which enables them to join our orang-utan spotting trek through Borneo,’ Carney said.

Carney said they are hoping to raise at least $75,000. ‘The trip to Borneo was so popular last year that we have decided to go back this year and we are hoping to almost double the funds raised,’ she said.

Most of the monies raised will go towards buying two ambulances for the Sydney metropolitan region. The ambulances will respond to calls about wildlife in distress, picking up sick and injured animals and delivering them to carers or for veterinary treatment.

‘The cost of buying just one of these ambulances is $80,000, so if we raise our target, it will go a long way to getting WIRES on the road with trained staff providing a fast, efficient and humane native animal rescue service,’ Carney said.

‘Some of the money will also go towards running the WIRES call centre which takes over 100,000 calls regarding injured or displaced animals per year.’

More than five million hectares of Borneo’s old growth and rainforest has already been cleared for oil palm plantations, with another five million hectares likely to meet the same fate, resulting in the extinction of orang-utans. The experience in Borneo, organised by WIRES, allows people to expand their interest in native wildlife to issues affecting wildlife in other countries.

‘It’s a fantastic, rare, up close and personal experience with wildlife – in this case, orang-utans. The trip raises vital funds to allow WIRES to continue its life-saving work rescuing, protecting and conserving Australian native animals,’ Carney said.

‘It is very important to conserve what is left and it’s not too late to save precious orang-utans. People going on this trip come back with a commitment to do just that, to do whatever they can to fight the threats to these wonderful creatures and to apply that to our own situation back home in Australia.’

WIRES is Australia’s largest native animal rescue and rehabilitation service and rescues more than 50,000 animals which go into the care of volunteers who rehabilitate and release them every year. With 2.5 per cent of the organisation’s funding from the government, it relies heavily on donations to carry out its work.

For more information on the WIRES Borneo rainforest orang-utan experience 2009, visit: www.inspiredadventures.com.au/wires09 or call 02 9262 7882.