Friday, 30 April 2010

The Elephants are Coming to London: photo competition

What are you doing this coming bank holiday Monday?

From 3rd May Harapan, the life-size baby (fibreglass!) elephant can be found in Green Park and we are launching a special elephant/orangutan competition!

It’s really easy to enter, all you have to do is go and visit Harapan, take your photo with him and post it on our Facebook Page or e-mail it to and we’ll post it for you.

This is Rebecca Sutherland and Harapan, her creation. 

We want to see how you are enjoying London and the beautiful elephants throughout the summer. The winner will receive an amazing SOS goodie bag which, amongst other things, will contain a one-off original painting of the finished Harapan in acrylic on canvas by Rebecca Sutherland.

Use your imagination and send us pretty, funny, and creative photos. But please, be careful with Harapan so that he doesn’t suffer any damage, we do hope to auction him off to the highest bidder at the end of June to raise funds for our conservation projects.

The competition lasts until the 30th June; which is also the Elephant Parade Mela in the grounds of Royal Chelsea Hospital with Elephant Family Patron Goldie Hawn.

So make the trip to Green Park to visit Harapan and some of his elephant friends.

We look forward to seeing the photos!

Some more info about the Elephant Parade?
Harapan is a part of The Elephant Parade London 2010, which is a conservation campaign that shines a multi-coloured spotlight on the urgent crisis faced by the endangered Asian elephant. Brought to you by, the event will see over 250 brightly painted life-size elephants located over central London this summer 2010. Each elephant is decorated by a different artist or celebrity, ours by Rebecca Sutherland. The elephants will brighten and beautify the city throughout the summer. The elephants will be enhancing parks, street corners and buildings around London. Running from May to July 2010, this will be London’s biggest outdoor art event on record. With an estimated audience of 25 million, the campaign is aiming to raise £2 million for the Asian elephant and benefit 20 UK conservation charities. The elephants will be auctioned off by Sotheby's on July 3 and all the proceeds from the sale of Harapan will support SOS’s work in Sumatra.

The elephants will be sold through a combination of live, silent and on-line auctions, as well as pre-sales over the course of the week of 23rd – 30th June.

We will post a map showing you the exact locations of the elephants as soon as we get or hands on it!

We have just finished picking the five lucky winners of the Facebook competition. Since we made it to well over 100 fans in April, we chose five people who won our Jason Monet designed T-shirts.

The winners are: Jane, Abby, Alexandra, Viviane and James!

 We chose the winners with help from a highly qualified and impartial friend!

So, Jane, Abby, Alexandra James and Viviane; please drop us a note either on Facebook or to and let us know what size t-shirt you would like and also your first and second choice of colour.

Look how many fans we have! 


Thursday, 29 April 2010

We got there! £1000 for Rainforest Restoration Project

Thank you to everyone who helped support us during this past month.
As most of you may know we have been taking part in a special project competition on the GlobalGiving website.

Our aim was to make £1000 in donations from at least 50 different individuals, and it is with delight we can let you know that we just met that target.

Our fundraising work for this project is not yet over, as a matter of fact we still need to raise over £22,000 to meet our current Restore Rainforest goal, but now we will have the added help from the GlobalGiving community to meet this target.

Oh yes, and if we were to miraculously get another well...hmm... £1300 in donations before 23.59 BST tomorrow evening (that;s Friday 30th April) we would also win first prize in the challenge and that means an additional £1000 from the GG team.

We will definitively be keeping our fingers firmly crossed for that one.

Love from the SOS team


Monday, 19 April 2010

Hope for marathon runners left disappointed after volcanic ash disruptions

In light of the recent massive disruptions to UK and European air travel because of the Icelandic volcano eruption, many marathon runners have been disappointed as they are missing their chance to run a marathon. Runners scheduled in for marathons in Paris, Antwerp, Hamburg, Boston, London, Brighton, Vienna, Nice and Belgrade, have been left stranded and unable to make their destinations in time for the marathons.
SOS has one free slot for the Edinburgh Marathon taking place on 23rd May. If you have been unable to get to your chosen marathon due to the flight chaos, please get in touch and you could run for SOS in May.
You have to give us a ring or drop us an e-mail asap as we would need to finalise registrations before Thursday 22nd April at 17.00 BST.
Ida Bondø
PR, Communications and Outreach Officer
Sumatran Orangutan Society
Tel: +44 (0)1865 403341


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Painting Harapan, the elephant.

Hi, I'm Rebecca Sutherland, and I have designed and painted Harapan for The Elephant Parade.

I usually design things that can be scanned, photo-shopped and attached to emails. And although a life-sized baby elephant was never going to fit on my scanner, it was probably one good reason to say yes to this project. It was going to be BIG, three dimensional and extremely unusual. How hard could it possibly be? Paint elephant - job done.

Throwing myself into the project I worked out the design and ordered lots of paint and brushes, then waited. I wanted the design to reflect the endangered elephants and orangutans along with the habitat that links them. As the ele/tree trunk pun was arrived at, the rest followed easily. SOS were originally allocated a sitting elephant, however after measuring both front door and side gate, it was clear it wasn't going to fit. The Elephant Family took pity and found us the slimmer standing variety - which was great. The next problem was where to put it.

When the elephant arrived I was excited. There he was, clean and white, just like the weather outside. We stood him in the centre of our unheated glass box conservatory, and I soon found out that to work out there was akin to working in the garden. A blow heater blasted air at me as I made the first brush strokes. Half an hour later I was driven back by the cold. So behind glass doors the first badly rendered vines caught my eye as winter stubbornly kept its grip on February. Never mind, I had plenty of time.

On into March, and I acclimatised to conditions. And as the weather warmed I'd like to say I painted away oblivious to everything, mixing away on my plates then standing back to admire my progress. But daylight hours were still short and I had a full workload of other projects on. The only solution was to get up early and work late into the night. Progress was made slower by my complete ignorance of painting with acrylics, so I discussed my feeble efforts at length with my arty friends. Ultimately it was time and practice that taught me.

Four weeks later and I was only halfway up the legs, and with one week to go it didn't take a genius to figure out I wasn't going to make it. Yet my old friend fear drove me on. Then as my deadline was extended I breathed a sigh of relief, just before more work that needed my undivided attention fell on to my lap. An illustrator never turns work away, and I was determined to get it all done.

Legs, trunk, back, tail, eyes and orangutan were all eventually underway, but it wasn't until I began the background that I actually began to relax and enjoy what I was doing. I'm like this on every piece of work, not sure of what I'm doing and willing to let the autopilot of experience get on with it. Art and design looks easy, but can be as hard as writing an essay or doing a maths equation. And when that step back moment comes and I take it all in, I know if my work is good or, well, not so good.

Thankfully Harapan was good - I liked him.

Before I started this project I remember telling Helen Buckland I wanted the SOS elephant to stand out like a jewel. Well he certainly became a bit of a local attraction here, with even my window cleaners loving him. One said he reminded him of Goa where he'd seen their festival of colour. That's what I was wanted to achieve; a festival of colour.

Finally, Harapan is Sumatran for hope, a wholly appropriate description of what SOS represents. For all the difficulties encountered Harapan was certainly worth it. Because the reward is riding on the front of him, as the eye-catching and fabulous orangutan we all hope to save.


Thursday, 1 April 2010

Please don't feed the orangutans.

It makes us really sad when people that are visiting the jungle feed the orangutans.
I will tell you why:

Bukit Lawang is a site where both semi-wild and wild orangutans live. The semi wild orangutans have been returned to the forest to that they have the chance to be fully independent again, but in the meantime they will get more dependent on people if tourists feed them.

2. Our DNA is so similar that orangutans can catch our diseases, but they don't have the immunity so they get sick and then die. This doesn’t only affect the individual orangutan but 3 can affect a whole group as they live so closely. It is especially sad when babies are affected and infant mortality is much higher in areas where orangutans are in close contact with people though tourist operators cite lack of direct evidence. This also works the other way; people are vulnerable to zoonotic diseases (carried by the orangutan) as well.

3. They are wild animals, and really strong. Accidents can happen which could endanger the person and the orangutan.

4. Orangutans do not usually spend a lot of their time on the ground, they generally stay in the trees and avoid coming to the ground. Semi wild orangutans who are used to and like human contact spend more time on the ground where they are more likely to contract parasites which are considered a major threat!

We cannot afford to be giving the orangutans our diseases, please let anyone who is visiting areas with orangutans know that they should keep their distance and under no circumstance feed them or touch them.

If you want to read more about this issue please read our
guidebook to the Gunung Leuser National Park.


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