A North couple have dedicated their lives to help save endangered Orangutans.
Civil servants Lynda and Malcolm Averill are determined to protecting Orangutans, which face extinction from deforestation, poachers and disease.
A trip to Borneo saw the couple, from Dykeheads, near Ryton, Gateshead, visit the rehabilitation centre in Sepilok, which cares for orphaned and injured Orangutans. On their return they joined the Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK and are now key fundraisers.
Their latest trip gave them the chance to interact with the Orangutans for the very first time.
Malcolm, 45, said: "It was amazing. We got lots of hands on feeding the babies and putting them to bed.
"We also made some really useful contacts while out there which we hope can help the appeal.
"This trip only strengthened our resolved, we are more committed than ever."
Orangutans are only found in two islands in the world, on Borneo and Sumatra. It is forecast that Sumatran Orangutans could become extinct in the next five to 10 years.
Sepilok is the oldest and considered the best rehabilitation centre in the world. While there, Lynda and Malcolm saw at first hand a successful operation to relocate two adult females back into the wild on a protected rainforest reserve. The project was filmed as part of the BBC Talent Initiative called Serious Jungle and is expected to be broadcast over Christmas.
Lynda, 41, said: "It was absolutely incredible.
"We are full committed to this cause. It is going to take up every spare minute we have got now. We would love local people to come on board."
They took hundreds of photographs and plan to turn the best into a charity calender.
Other projects they are helping include encouraging corporate sponsorship from eco-friendly companies and encouraging people to adopt and sponsor a baby Orangutan.
Funding for Sepilok comes from the Malay government's Wildlife Department and revenue from tourists who visit the centre. But it is not enough.
Lynda added: "Every penny we raise goes directly to the appeal. All the volunteers who go out to Borneo pay for the trip out of their own pockets. "
She is holding an autumn fair on Saturday, October 26 at Emmaville Hall, Crawcrook, 11am-12 noon.
If you want to help the appeal ring Lynda or Malcolm on (0191) 413 2196 or email www.orangutan-appeal.org
Protecting our wildlife
The Sepilok centre was created in 1964.
Orangutans are gentle creatures who live high in the treetops. In Malay Orangutan means Man of the Forest.
Dozens of Orangutans are housed at Sepilok and many more have been released into surrounding areas.
The facility provides medical care for orphaned and confiscated Orangutans and dozens of other animals.
Before being thrown this lifeline, many young Orangutans were the victims of the illegal pet trade throughout Asia.
They were often caught during logging or forest clearance, or captured by poachers who slaughtered the mothers so the babies could be sold as pets.
Many young Orangutans are rescued from the black-market pet trade. The unlucky ones often become sick or suffer neglect and cruelty.
Ten years ago the estimated population in the wild was around 27,000, today it has declined drastically and could be as low as 15,000.