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Leading Ladies: One of our own – Q & A with Ashley Leiman

Ashley Leiman in Boreno at the Orangutan Reintroduction Camp

Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field ( predominantly in Indonesian Borneo). She is also leading our Borneo Orangutan Conservation Tour.

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

1. WHAT WAS YOUR EARLIEST OR CHILDHOOD AMBITION?

I wanted to be an explorer and show jumper.

2. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

The world would be a poorer place without the tropical forest and life within.

3. WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. I was moved by his words – “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

4. WHat inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

5. If your 20 year old self could see you now what would she think?

Not surprised. I was never mainstream. But hopefully proud of what I have achieved.

6. in what place are you happiest?

Remote Scotland and in my workplace in Kalimantan.

7. do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes, but with work 6,532 miles away I have no choice but to travel by air. However, I rarely take holidays…

8. the one essential you travel with?

Reading light.

9. your best piece of travel advice?

Read at least one book on your destination. Take your curiosity with you and don’t be afraid of new experiences.

10. what advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

11. if you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

I wouldn’t change anything. Any earlier and I wouldn’t have the wisdom and experience.

Travel with Ashley to Borneo 

Indonesian Borneo - Orangutan Conservation Tour

Expert led group tour

Indonesian Borneo – Orangutan Conservation Tour

11 days from £2,895pp

View Group Tour

Get in touch to start planning your holiday to Borneo. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Steppes Leading Ladies Issue Five | July | Primates

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“We admit that we like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes.” – Richard Dawkins

Our fifth edition of Leading Ladies champions our pioneering primatologists. Women like Dian Fossey who dedicated her life to the conservation of Mountain Gorillas and brought this endangered species back from the brink.

Women like Jane Goodall who arrived in Tanzania, age 26 with a notebook, a pair of binoculars and a strong desire to study wild chimpanzees. Now one of the worlds leading primate ambassadors whose conservation work continues to protect chimps, habitat and local communities worldwide.

Ashley Leiman, who first visited the rainforests of Malaysia in 1974, set up the Orangutan Foundation UK to help primate conservation and today leads our Borneo Orangutan conservation tour to Tanjung Puting National Park.

Justin WateridgeJustin round
Managing Director | Steppes Travel

P.S Every hour rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed in Malaysia and Indonesia by the palm oil industry.

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Dian Fossey changed the future of gorilla conservation.

In 1967 Dian Fossey set up camp in Rwanda’s Parc des Volcan. She found a species on the brink of extinction. Although Dian was not an advocate of gorilla tourism – it is this aspect and the money generated from tourism that has helped fund their conservation and pay the park guides to protect these great apes.

Almost 50 years later they are still endangered but protected and the population is slowly climbing with an estimated 880 Mountain Gorillas in the world.

“The man who kills animals today is the man who kills the people who get in his way tomorrow.” – Dian Fossey

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

GORILLA TREKKING HOLIDAYS

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“What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”  – Jane Goodall

Dr Jane Goodall DBE is one of the world’s leading primatologists in chimpanzee behaviour. 

Best know for her 55 year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Goodall’s research challenged long term beliefs that only humans could construct and use tools and that chimpanzees were vegetarian. She observed chimpanzees feeding at a termite mound placing grass stalks into the mound to fish for termites and also stripping leaves from twigs to make them more effective as a tool for capturing. She also observed chimps hunting and eating colobus monkeys.

FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS

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Ashley-Leiman, founder of Orangutan Foundation UK

Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field (predominatly in Indonesian Borneo).She is also leading our trip to Borneo

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who has inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

Who has inspired you to to what you do?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. He inspired me with the words “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

What inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

What advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

Read our full Q & A with ASHLEY here

JOIN ASHLEY IN BORNEO

Indonesian-Borneo-Orangutan-Conservation-Tour-

 11 DAYS FROM £2,795 PP

Gorilla-Trekking-Guide

Download our guide for expert tips and FAQ on what to pack, which parks to visit, our choice of accommodation and what family groups and behaviour you might see.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE GUIDE

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Alex Walker Ladybug safaris

In conjunction with Alexander Walker’s Serian, we are offering the first-ever fully female guided safari. Start your journey in Kenya’s Mara North Conservancy and then head into Tanzania’s Northern Serengeti.

FIRST ALL FEMALE GUIDED SAFARI

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Who has inspired you? Cast your vote as to who we should feature next. Send your suggestions to leadingladies@steppestravel.co.uk
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“It is thought that one in ten products found on supermarket shelves today come from palm oil. Rainforest areas the equivalent to 300 football pitches are being destroyed every hour in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

According to the UN  there is risk that by 2020 there will be no wild orangutan remaining outside protected areas. What can we do to help protect the habitat of the orangutan?

READ BLOG

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Beyond Steppes Travel FestivalBEYOND Steppes Festival Royal Geographical Society, London
17th & 18th September 2016

Ashley Leiman will be speaking at the Festival along with our many key speakers.

Buy your tickets

Featured speakers: Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Chris Packham, Benedict Allen, Alastair Humphreys, Colin Bell, Steve Leonard, Edurne Pasaban, Hanli Prinsloo, Monty Halls, Kenton Cool…and much more.

Get in touch to start planning your next holiday. Email inspire@steppestravel.com or call us on 01285 601 753.

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Indonesian Borneo Adventures

My guide meets me at the airport, I recognise him immediately as I walk through arrivals, my eyes being drawn to the sign he’s proudly holding up and waving in my general direction – his name is Deddy.

This is a small airport, just one baggage carousel as long as three office desks pushed together. We wait patiently as it trundles into action, each bag being carefully thrown from the other side. Typically my bag arrives last with Deddy scooping it onto his back before I can grab it. ‘This way’ he says as we start walking towards the exit. Leaving the air conditioned building behind, I’m suddenly hit with that oven like warmth I’d momentarily forgotten about.

I’m in Pangkalanbun, a small city on the southern coast of Indonesia Borneo and am here to hopefully see the mighty Orang-utan that live in the dense forests of the Tanjung Puting National Park. Made famous by Professor Galdikas’s establishment of Camp Leakey and her pioneering study of the Orang-utan in the 70’s, images of her paddling deep into the jungle by dugout canoe stick in my mind. I can’t wait to get there!

As we pull onto the swept, tarmacked road leading out of the airport, it’s not long until the pot holes begin to appear, the road narrows and the beautiful little villages start lining the streets. Children wearing faded Manchester United tops are kicking footballs to one another and chickens are busily scratching around in the dry, dusty earth. ‘That’s my house!’ Deddy exclaims, pointing to the left. ‘My Mother lives next door, my wife’s family over there, my friend there, ooooh and that’s the shop, the butcher, internet, post office…’ Before I know it I’m having the tour de grand of his own village and it’s not long until the taxi pulls over and I’m invited in to meet his extended family.

Locally ground coffee is brought out on a tray accompanied by what can only be described as a treasure trove of deep fried delights. A small bowl containing a fiery red liquid appears next to it and I am encouraged to dunk one of these patty like treats into the sauce – all eyes are on me as I pop one into my mouth. Unsurprisingly the red liquid turns out to be Sambal, a local chilli concoction, with my taste beds soon letting me know of the heat involved. Looking around the room, Deddy’s family appear to be tentatively waiting for the decision. A thumbs up followed by a somewhat muffled ‘It’s very good!’ as I swallow the last mouthful gives way to an unexpected commotion, gold teeth peep through big grins and soon they are all reaching for the plate in front of me.

We bid farewell after a short while and continue our journey towards the port town of Kumai, where a traditional two-tiered boat known as a Kloktok is waiting to take me down river. It’s beautifully painted baby-blue and two Orang-utan murals are cheerily smiling back at me as I step on board. I meet the Captain, the Captains Wife who doubles up as the cook and the Captain’s assistant who is busily preparing for us to disembark. Up on top deck I slump into a deck chair and admire the view as the motors grind into action, ‘Tea Sir?’ the Wife’s Captain appears alongside me with yet more plates of goodies, deep fried banana, tea, coffee and biscuits. I could get used to this I think to myself as our Kloktok starts puttering down the Kumai River.

We pass ships of all shapes and sizes, a water taxi wizzes past loaded with passengers, a local fishermen appears disgruntled as the wake of our boat knocks his slightly off kilter and children along the river banks wave excitedly as we go. On the other side of the bank I see Mangroves stretching to the horizon. ‘Over there!’ Deddy’s pointing to a small opening far in the distance – ‘TANJUNG PUTING’…

Watch out for Charles’ second blog coming soon…

For more information on holidays to Borneo or to speak with Charles further about his travels please call 01285 880 980.