Port Macquarie resident Phebe Gelfling wants to help save orangutans before they become extinct forever.
Miss Gelfling is 26-years-old and a veterinary nurse at the Bonny Hills Veterinary Clinic.
In November she went on a trip of a lifetime to visit Sumatra with The Orangutan Project.
The Orangutan Project works to rescue and rehabilitate orangutans.
Both the Sumatran and Bornean species are classified as 'critically endangered' according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Miss Gelfling got the opportunity to experience the project's rehabilitation work firsthand by visiting the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. The sanctuary is not open to the public.
Staff have released 175 rescued baby orangutans back into the park, but 2000 are needed to establish a viable gene pool.
Miss Gelfling said it's heartbreaking to see the habitat destruction in Sumatra.
The Orangutan Project website states extinction of wild Sumatran orangutans is likely in the next 10 years due to the 'alarming rate of deforestation and clearing of land for pulp paper and palm oil plantations'.
Miss Gelfling said it was fascinating to learn about orangutans and the importance of protecting their habitat from Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project.
Miss Gelfling and her family are major donors to the project.
Miss Gelfling's cousin Amanda loved orangutans but sadly passed away when she was 19-years-old from cancer.
She never got the opportunity to visit the animals in Sumatra.
"It was her dream to go on this special trip," Miss Gelfling said.
"I feel blessed to be able to do that for her."
Miss Gelfling said funding is vital to save the rainforest from deforestation and protect the existing sanctuary for orangutans.
"Unfortunately stopping eating palm oil is not the solution," she said.
"Buying land for the orangutans is the only way to ensure their survival."
People can make a donation to support the orangutans and the work by The Orangutan Project by visiting www.orangutan.org.au
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