Australia’s most effective orangutan advocate, Daniel Clarke (17) had a Royal encounter on Wednesday that he will never forget.
Daniel received an invitation from Her Excellency The Honourable Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales, to attend a formal reception for Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge at The Sydney Opera House, at the commencement of their Australian Tour on Wednesday 16th April, 2014.
Daniel, in his student leadership role at Northern Beaches Christian School (NBCS) as Student Ambassador, along with Alec Green, School Captain (NBCS), were nominated by their Principal, Mr Stephen Harris.
A Precious Five Minutes
Daniel was fortunate to spend five minutes talking with the Duchess of Cambridge on The Royal Highnesses first official function here in Australia. Accompanied by his mother Penny, officially as Daniel’s carer, Daniel presented a toy orangutan for Prince George, along with a copy of the book that he and his brother William wrote about their quest to save the critically endangered orangutan.
The Duchess looked into the eyes of the toy orangutan and, with a big smile, said to Daniel, “George will love playing with this tonight!”.
“The Duchess was really interested in our quest to save the orangutan and was very impressed with our book. She asked about our trip to Borneo in 2008 and I mentioned we were planning another trip to Borneo this year where we are hoping to write another book”, Daniel said. The Duchess responded by saying, “I am looking forward to your second book!”, which made Daniel grin from ear to ear and provided a whole new level of inspiration.
The Duchess flipped through several pages of the book, stopping to admire the photo of Daniel in his wheelchair with ‘Darren’ the orangutan (Page 41) as well as the photo of ‘Princess’ and her baby (Page 33). Daniel mentioned to Her Royal Highness that the orangutan, ‘Princess’ was taught sign language and is still able to communicate her basic needs by this method today. The Duchess was quite amazed by this.
After spending five minutes with Daniel, on what was a very busy schedule, the Duchess said goodbye, shaking his hand and thanking him very much for the gifts.
Daniel was absolutely thrilled that the Duchess spent time with him and is hopeful that Their Royal Highnesses will be supportive of both his, and his brothers, efforts to save the orangutan going forward.
Hope for the future…
In preparation of their Royal encounter, Daniel’s brother William penned a message in the front of the book to Prince George which read, “To Prince George, We hope that you too will be able to see the Orangutans in the wild as we have, Best Wishes, Daniel and William”.
Conservationists worldwide are saying how the critically endangered orangutan have less than 10 years left in the wild before they reach a point of no return. Daniel and William are inspiring the next generation to make change and take action to save the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra and in turn saving many other plant and animal species that rely on the same habitat to survive.
Daniel and William hope that, with their passion for wildlife, the Royal couple will help them in their quest and, in some way, help the boys to continue to raise awareness for the critically endangered orangutan.
If you would like to help save the orangutan you can help protect their forest through The Orangutan Project’s Safeguard Program or adopt your own orangutan through the Borneo Orangutan Survival’s Orangutan Adoption Program
Official royal photographs in this blog were taken by Benjamin Townsend www.btphotography.com.au and have been represented here with express permission (Thank you Ben!)