Leif is the founder of the International Elephant Project (IEP). He has worked at Perth Zoo for 25 years as a curator managing a wide range of animals, including Asian elephants. In respect to his professional, animal, human and financial management skills, Leif has been an Australasian Species Management Program Committee Member; a Quarantine-Approved Assessor; Australasian Husbandry Adviser; Zoo Accreditation Officer; UN GRASP in-country point of contact, an International Species Coordinator and Chair of a World Aquarium and Zoo Association global conservation program.
Leif has several academic qualifications, including a Masters of Science studying orangutans. He lectures at universities, is a seasoned public speaker, supervises university students and regularly publishes papers in peer reviewed journals. Leif also has enormous field experience in protecting rainforest, rescuing and releasing wildlife (including the first two ever captive-born orangutans).
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 Indonesia and influencing positive change for wildlife protection and survival. This respect has given IEP parent organisation, The Orangutan Project (TOP), world standing in conservation, and allows Leif to successfully negotiate conservation agreements with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and other government officials.
Clare is the Director and Chairperson of the Asian Rhino Project, President of the Silvery Gibbon Project and sits on the Conservation Fund Committee of The Orangutan Project and is a member of the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group and Primate Specialists Group, Section on Small Apes. Clare has a particular passion for gibbons and has extensive experience in zoos, in particular the management of captive primates. She has worked with Exotic species for over 14 years. Clare has extensive experience in species management and has developed conservation strategies and assisted with rehabilitation and reintroduction programs for the Javan gibbon. She is committed to developing and assisting with more collaborative and holistic in situ conservation projects in Indonesia and South East Asia. Clare holds B.Sc. in Zoology/Marine Biology and Post Graduate Certificate in Captive Vertebrate Management and was awarded James Cook University Alumni of the Year for Science in 2013 for her contribution to wildlife conservation.
Rebecca Wright : Board Member Rebecca has extensive experience in international, especially in Asian investment and corporate knowledge, particularly as it relates to non-profit organisations/charities, fundraising from private sector and government donors.
Rebecca also brings high level connections with international/multilateral organisations, such as the UN, UNEP FI, World Bank, and grass roots investors across Asia. In addition, Rebecca has a high level of understanding of international climate change negotiations.
The Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) was established in 2007 by Dr. Gary Shapiro who began his involvement with orangutans 43 years ago in the field of primate cognition and learning. He was the first person (1973-1975) to teach a symbolic communication system to an orangutan and the first person to have taught sign language to orangutans in the species’ natural environment (1978-1980; 1981 Indonesian Borneo) . During his time in Borneo, Shapiro assisted in the rehabilitation efforts of dozens of ex-captive orangutans and monitored the phenology of local rain forest ecosystem.
Shapiro received his doctorate in Zoology in 1985 from the University of Oklahoma then returned to Indonesian Borneo (1986) to conduct freshwater ecology studies. Shapiro’s interest in the freshwater ecology of Borneo was an extension of the research projects he conducted while being employed by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (1982-1985). He was also employed for nearly 27 years with the state of California as an emergency planner and an emergency responder (1988-2014).
Shapiro was the co-founder and vice president of the Orangutan Foundation International from 1986-2004. He has authored or co-authored numerous papers on orangutan linguistics, cognition, conservation and ethics. In late 2004, Dr. Shapiro and his Indonesian wife, Inggriani, were inspired to create the Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (OUREI) and in response to the education needs underscoring the crisis facing orangutans today, particularly in Sumatra.