Orang Utan Republik Foundation to Hold Annual Pongo Awards to Honor Environmental Achievement and Benefit Critically Endangered Orangutans

The evening fundraiser in Santa Monica will honor world-renowned nature photographer and filmmaker, James Balog (Chasing Ice, The Human Element), and conservation organizations Heal the Bay and Forum Konservasi Leuser (Aceh, Sumatra)

August 28, 2023 - Santa Monica, CA. The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) and actor/environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. and NBC weathercaster Dagmar Midcap will honor environmental achievement, activism, advocacy, and orangutan conservation at the 9th Annual Pongo Environmental Awards to be held on held from on Saturday, October 14, 2023, from 5-9 p.m. at the Building Bridges Art Exchange located at the iconic Bergamot Station Art Center in Santa Monica, CA.

This year’s Pongo Environmental Awards will feature an intimate talk from James Balog, sharing his thoughts and stunning images of biodiversity and our dramatically changing planet.  The Pongo Awards, presented by the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF), bring together local and global conservationists for an evening of advocacy and entertainment.

The event will include Balinese dance performances from Krama Bali LA, and guests will have the opportunity to enjoy wine and gourmet vegan/vegetarian Indonesian cuisine. Additionally, there will be a special live and silent auction featuring rare sports, music, and entertainment collectibles. This collection will include signed treasures from Springsteen, the Eagles, McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Star Wars & Lionel Messi, and others.

Tickets to attend the awards are available to the public at pongoawards.org.

This year's recipients of the 9th Annual Pongo Environmental Awards include:

  • James Balog and Earth Vision Institute: James Balog, a scientist, photographer, and filmmaker, is being recognized for his decades of work capturing stunning images that show the changes taking place on our fragile planet.
  • Heal the Bay: This organization is being honored for its impressive four decades of environmental advocacy, science, education, and protecting the coastal waters in the Greater Los Angeles area.
  • Forum Konservasi Leuser: The award honors the organization and its local leadership for many years of effective environmental activism, advocacy, and conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Sumatra

The Pongo Environmental Awards, presented by the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF), have a dual (or twofold) purpose: to raise funds for OURF’s crucial work to save wild, critically endangered from extinction and to honor those who have made significant contributions to understanding and appreciating orangutans, endangered species, rainforest habitat, and improving conditions for orangutans and other animals.

The theme of this year’s fundraiser, which is open to the public, is “Biodiversity Matters - Our LIVES Depend on It.” This theme emphasizes the urgent need to take action to prevent ecosystem collapse. We can no longer wait. Indonesia, which makes up only 1.3% of the world’s land surface, is a hotspot of biodiversity, hosting 17% of the world’s bird species, 16% of the world’s reptiles, 12% of the world’s mammals, and 10% of the world’s flowering species. According to World Wildlife Fund the world has seen an average 68% drop in mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian populations since 1970. Much of the loss is caused by habitat destruction due to unsustainable agriculture or logging.

Orangutans, who share 97% of their genetics with humans, are only found in the wild on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia (N. Borneo). Fewer than 14,600 individuals remain in Sumatra. Their population continues to decline due to the conversion of forest to agriculture, the illegal pet trade, being killed as pests or hunted, as well as habitat degradation from natural and human-caused activities, i.e., fires, mining, logging, palm oil, and major infrastructure projects.

The Pongo Environmental Awards program will also be live-streamed for supporters who cannot attend in person and are available at pongoawards.org. Additional information about OURF and the Pongo Environmental Awards is available at www.orangutanrepublik.org. The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) (www.orangutanrepublik.org) is a 501(c)(3) publicly supported charity with a mission to save wild orangutans through education initiatives and innovative, collaborative projects. It also serves as the US chapter of The Orangutan Project expanding its reach and support to over a dozen orangutan support organizations in Indonesia and Malaysia (www.theorangutanproject.org)

For further information regarding attending the 2023 Pongo Awards and to purchase tickets, go to pongoawards.org.