Dame Judi Dench on helping to rescue sun bears and orangutans on a life-changing trip to the rainforests of Borneo in Judi Dench’s Wild Borneo Adventure
There can’t be many 84-year-olds who say without hesitation, ‘I’d love to!’ when asked if they’d like to be winched up into the tree canopy of one of the last remaining untouched rainforests in the world.
But, then, Dame Judi Dench (pictured above) is clearly at home in the Borneo jungle and seems to adore all of the creatures who live there, from the lovable orangutans and sun bears to the less cuddly dung beetles and cicadas, an unassuming type of beetle that makes a right old racket as the sun goes down.
As she embraces all that the jungle can throw at her, she also learns about its future and whether there is hope for the survival of this magnificent and vital place.
Here, Dame Judi tells us more about her trip and the sun bears that captured her heart…
What made you want to travel 7,000 miles to make this series?
I’ve always loved the natural world, I’m constantly planting trees in my garden, and recently I adopted three orphan orangutans in Borneo.
So this combined my passions.
You started off by seeing the vast rainforest by helicopter…
I never imagined it would be quite so overpowering to look at.
It’s like flying over broccoli – it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before!
And around every corner there’s always an extraordinary creature.
It takes your breath away.
What can you tell us about the three endangered sun bears you helped to release?
The sun bear is native to Borneo.
It’s also the smallest bear in the world, about the size of a labrador, but they’re hunted.
One of the bears was four-year-old Tan-Tan.
She was rescued when she was four months old after her mother had been killed.
She was about to be sold for body parts used in traditional medicine.
Did you come away feeling there was hope for the rainforests of Borneo?
There is hope.
Such incontrovertible proof of the importance of the rainforest is causing governments to rethink.
This trip has given me an amazing insight into the importance of the rainforests for all of us.
More forest means more homes for wildlife.
I’ve learnt how vulnerable this wonderful place is and what we need to do to save it.
This journey has affected me so much!