Charlotte Uhlenbroek

Charlotte Uhlenbroek is passionate about her work with apes - she specialises in primates' social behaviour.

As a child in Nepal, Charlotte loved rescuing stray animals. Her PhD led to conservation work alongside the renowned Jane Goodall in Tanzania.

From there she was spotted by the BBC's Natural History Unit. Six TV series later and she's busier than ever.

Can we learn from the apes?

Yes. It's when you look into an animal’s eyes and see a sentient being there. With apes, it’s even more pronounced.

You have no doubt that you’re looking at a creature with a very similar mind to your own.

You can’t go for ten minutes, hanging out with apes, without having a memorable experience.

Charlotte Uhlenbroek on her passion

What’s happened to the orang-utans?

The situation had got considerably worse (Charlotte on her return to Borneo in 2001 - a decade since her first visit).

Oil palm plantations had razed rainforest, killing or displacing thousands of orang-utans.

The Orang-utan Foundation sanctuary I visited was built for 20 orphans - now they’ve got more than 250.The sanctuaries are becoming overwhelmed.

What can we do?

It often seems to be completely beyond our control - but it’s our money in our back pockets that’s going to make all the difference.

It's whether we go for companies that are environmentally-friendly and use sustainable products or not.

Can we solve the palm oil scandal?

Targeting supermarkets is the right way forward. I very much hope that supermarkets will take note and make sure what they’re stocking their shelves with isn’t destroying orang-utan habitat.

It’s as simple as that. But are they prepared to take responsibility?

Help Friends of the Earth save orang-utans >