The Orangutan Project was established in 1998 by founder and world-renowned orangutan expert, Leif Cocks, as a result of his almost 30 year career working with orangutans. Leif is a passionate campaigner for orangutans and has been the leader of The Orangutan Project since its inception.
Leif’s years in the field have earned him respect within the conservation field. He has been a key player in developing conservation plans for orangutans and influencing positive change for orangutan protection and survival. This includes the first ever successful reintroduction of the zoo-born orangutan. This respect has given The Orangutan Project world standing in conservation.
A small population biologist and curator by trade; Leif has several academic qualifications, including a Masters of Science studying orangutans. He is a seasoned public speaker and has published several papers on orangutans in peer-reviewed journals. Leif is also the author of the books Orangutans and their Battle for Survival (2002) and, Amazon best seller, Orangutans My Cousins, My Friends(2016) and Finding our Humanity (2019).
Amongst many roles, Leif is currently: a Technical Advisor for PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (a company leasing and protecting rainforest), Head of International Elephant Project, head of International Tiger Project, Vice President of Orang Utan Republik Foundation and on the Advisory Board for Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh.
In respect to his professional, animal, human and financial management skills, Leif has been the longest standing member of the Australasian Species Management Program; a Quarantine-Approved Assessor; Zoo Husbandry Adviser; Zoo Accreditation Officer; UN GRASP in-country point of contact, an International Species Coordinator, International Studbook Keeper and the Chair of a World Aquarium and Zoo Association global conservation program.
Nikko’s passion for animals and their welfare started at a very young age. As a little girl she always wanted a monkey, but her parents quickly filled that void with horses and dogs. As a youngster she was an accomplished horse show jumper and now rides in the dressage discipline. While raising her family she has worked at a successful family business that has given her the opportunity to develop solid business skills. Her passion for primates never left her and as soon as she had the opportunity she embarked in her life-long dream trip to visit the Orangutans in Borneo, Indonesia for two weeks. Once there she had the opportunity to see how magnificent these creatures are. This first trip reignited her passion for the Orangutans, but also made her realize all of the environmental threats that they are facing. She came back determined to do something about this. Within a year she had returned to Sumatra twice to see how even more threatened these Orangutans are. Realizing that the biggest challenge that these marvellous creatures face is the loss of habitat due to the deforestation, development of large palm oil plantations, mining and illegal logging, Nikko welcomes the opportunity to meet these challenges through the work of WCI Canada Foundation.
Matthew is a Wildlife and Landscape Photographer based in Toronto, Canada. Having traveled to over 50 countries, he thoroughly enjoys exploring the world and documenting his experiences through his pictures – enabling him to share stories and knowledge acquired with others. In addition to being a Director for our WCI Canada Foundation, Mr. Douglas is also an active member with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. While his fulltime job as an aerospace engineer has him traveling for much of the year, Matthew dedicates most of his spare time to wildlife photography, conservation and education. Constantly eager to find new adventures and ways to challenge himself, Matthew pushes his photography and personal life experiences to new levels. M C Douglas Photography's photos and articles have been featured in publications such as ‘Wildlife Photographic Magazine’ and ‘Extraordinary Vision Magazine’.
Anitha is thrilled to be part of the WCI Canada team. A Chartered Professional Accountant, she recently traded in numbers to devote more time to writing children’s books, helping animals and her Kindness Is Everything Blog, where she shares stories of people being kind to each other and animals. Anitha’s recent picture book, A FAMILY FOR FARU, is the story of a young boy, an orphaned rhino and their journey to find the rhino a new family. Anitha will be donating 40% of her royalties to rhino charities. She lives on a hobby farm in Ontario with her husband, two children, and many animals. She hopes one day to turn the property into a sanctuary for farm animals and senior dogs.
Alasdair moved to Calgary AB, Canada with his family as a young child from Zimbabwe in 1968. He has lived in North Vancouver, BC with his family since 1993. An avid outdoorsman from childhood to present, Alasdair is passionate and experienced at remote wilderness camping hiking, kayaking and canoeing. He owns and operates a boutique family operated Tour company and has a passion for our global Ecosystems and Indigenous peoples and places. Alasdair has held and holds several relevant volunteer positions including: Board Member -Tourism Richmond, Board Member & Animal Care Volunteer- Wildlife Rescue Association of BC. He is currently a Member of the District of North Vancouver’s Parks & Natural Environment Advisory Committee as well as the Volunteer Lead for North Vancouver’s Upper Mackay Creek Adopt-a-Park program. Alasdair also a new Board Member of WCI Canada Foundation, whose goal is protecting the last remaining ecosystems and endangered wildlife on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.