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This page was created in support of Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary - Click here to join this cause


Help me leave a legacy!  Give the greatest gift in the world by conserving critically endangered orangutan, tiger, rhino and elephant habitat!

My Story

About a year ago, I started feeling really lost.

It started when I was holding the hand of my dying grandmother, who I adored. Death tends to cause us to reflect on our own lives, doesn't it? Are we living the life we want? What kind of a legacy am I going to leave? Have I made a difference?

I started searching. I looked inward to try to figure out who I really was and what I was really passionate about. I tend to be a bit of a wild child when it comes to these things. I bounce around, fascinated by so much around me. I want to experience it all! The only things I've ever consistently been able to focus on in depth, that has held my short attention span, has been my love of photography and nature.

I found a non-profit called Photographers Without Borders that was going to take a workshop group to Sumatra in Indonesia to document the critically endangered orangutan and other wildlife and learn about the impact of habitat destruction and deforestation due to palm oil demand. The trip would raise funds for a sanctuary there, too. I didn't know much about the country or palm oil, but this seemed like the perfect adventure for my wanderlust! 

What I discovered gave me a new passion to protect a fragile ecosystem in desperate need.

Every road trip involved about 3-4 hours of driving on bumpy roads and most of the view as far as the eye could see were these palm oil plantations.  They were everywhere! We had countless trucks pass by carrying oversized loads of palm oil.  We learned that the illegal encroachment and massive deforestation due to these plantations has destroyed much of the only tropical rain forests left on Sumatra.  This is the only place left in the world that could be a real life Jungle Book, where the tiger, rhino, elephant, and orangutan are all struggling to survive. 

"Product of Destruction"    (Photo by Christy Frank)

Sadly, species trapped in the palm oil plantations often suffer a death sentence or torture in an attempt to rid the “pests” from the area. An increase in access roads have also encouraged illegal poaching for products and the pet trade.  

We heard so many heart wrenching stories such as one of an ex-poacher on his last day of poaching.  In order to capture baby orangutans, the mother is shot so they can pry away the baby.  On this instance, he witnessed the mother repeatedly kissing her baby as she took her last breaths.  The evidence that these animals, who share 97% of our DNA, have compassion and feel emotions like we do tugged at my heart strings.  Other orangutan are found riddled with bullets in these palm oil plantations from workers trying to scare the "pests" away from the plantation.  

The problem is we've destroyed so much of their environment, where else is this wildlife supposed to live? 

"Prison" (Photo by Christy Frank)
 tiger pants behind his dilapidated enclosure at the Medan Zoo.)

Too often, wildlife that is able to be “rescued” from palm oil plantations face a life of imprisonment rather than being able to return to their native habitat to be free in the wild. Reasons for this include a lack of available facilities and sanctuary land, health and/or behavioral concerns, or past captivity leaving animals unable to care for themselves. Unfortunately, this frequently results in creatures spending the remainder of their life in less than ideal conditions.

"Solitary Confinement" (Photo by Christy Frank)

(A monkey stares longingly at the outside world from his small and lonely cell at the Medan Zoo.)

This sweet creature in particular made me break down and cry.  I was trying to capture his picture, and while doing so, he kept slowly reaching out trying to touch me.  You just knew he wanted some type of interaction.  Primates are social.  This is no kind of life for such a being.  I left the zoo with a pit in my stomach.  I had a burning desire to be a voice for the voiceless.

"Hope: A Force of Nature" (Photo by Christy Frank)

Despite what seems like overwhelming and despondent conditions in Sumatra, people like Panut Hadisiswoyo are fighting to protect current tropical forest habitats, rescue and rehabilitate stranded and injured wildlife, and reestablish new forests on former palm oil plantations. From the moment I met him, his passion for his life's work was inspiring.  He couldn't even get through a description of the rescues he's participated in and what he's witnessed without choking back tears.  It drives him to continue his constant fight.  Through passion, diligence and hard work, Panut and his team have successfully rescued hundreds of animals, and have established beautiful restoration sites, which are quickly growing into new forest habitats, even after everyone told him it couldn't be done. 

"Wild Sanctuary"     (Photo by Christy Frank)

Shrouded by mist, this wild land is the promise of a new home for animals with nowhere left to go. A partnership has formed to establish the Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary, a pristine rainforest that will be a safe haven for these wild animals. With over half of the natural forest destroyed in Sumatra in the last 30 years, protecting what’s left is crucial for species survival.  This land is adjacent to the national park.  As I stood overlooking this hopeful new start, I realized something was different about this landscape.  I could hear birds! For the very first time on our journey, I was listening to the wild calls of birds in the jungle. This was land that hadn't been burned for palm oil trees or poached for its thousands of wild species. It hit me again how vital it is to protect pristine rain forests such as this.  

"Legacy"    (Photo by Christy Frank)

When I first witnessed a baby orangutan playing in the rainforests of Gunung Leuser National Park, it was surreal. The gaze she gave me felt so connected.  Her natural curiosity and the way she swung freely through the canopy above made me never want to see another caged primate in a tiny and dilapidated zoo enclosure or poached as someone's pet. Conserving wild land for these critically endangered species is imperative and urgent or they face extinction forever. The hope of leaving a legacy of conservation, compassion, and protection for these and other endangered animals is the motivating force to work together for a more promising future. 

Without your help, these lands will likely fall into the hands of palm oil plantations and other developments.

Help me in this effort to buy and conserve 40 more hectares (one hectare is about the size of a football field) of rainforest land adjacent to the Gunung Leuser ecosystem so that animals such as orangutan, elephants, tigers, rhino, and thousands of others may flourish. The Sanctuary will also encourage and provide job alternatives (to palm oil plantation work) to locals and hopes to inspire additional conservation efforts.   

My dream is to be a "Founder of the Sanctuary" by raising $10,000.  Please consider being part of the legacy that achieves this goal with me!  Thank you for reading through my story!

By donating to the Sanctuary, you will be eligible for the following incentives as our way of saying thank you!

Individual Donation Incentives (brackets indicate amount of land conserved by your donation):

$50 & under (156.25 m²) - Receive a personal thank you from us and have your name honored at the sanctuary.

$100 (312.5 m²) - We will plant a tree in your name. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary.

$250 (625 m²) - Plant a tree in your name in or near the sanctuary land. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary and you will receive a 5"x7" print of Sumatran wildlife from one of our resident photographers.

$500  (1250 m²) - Receive a beautiful printed book of original images by PWB Photographer Gita Defoe, Danielle Da Silva or Kristi Odom. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary.

$750 (2500 m²)  - Receive a beautiful printed book of original images by PWB Photographer Gita Defoe, Danielle Da Silva or Kristi Odom AND plant a tree in your name in or near the sanctuary land. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary.

Team/Large Donation Incentives:

$5,000 (10,000 m²=equivalent of 1 football field) - Become an "Ambassador of the Sanctuary" and you are welcomed to be a featured guest for a week (airfare not included) at the sanctuary once it is complete. You also become the owner of one virtual hectare (equivalent of 1 football field) of rainforest land. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary.

$10,000  (20,000 m²=equivalent of 2 football fields) - Become a "Founder of the Sanctuary" and you are welcomed to be a featured guest for a week (airfare included) at the sanctuary once it is complete. You also become the owner of 2 virtual hectares (equivalent of 2 football fields) of rainforest land. Your name will also be honoured at the sanctuary.

***For donations of $1,000 or more, your name/organization name (if provided) will be added to a plaque that will be displayed publicly at the sanctuary.***

The ultimate goal of this fundraiser:
We will raise $100,000 USD to purchase around 30-40 hectares/ 3-400,000 m²(equivalent of 30-40 football fields) of rainforest land that will be conserved as a sanctuary for wildlife and natural resources.

More about us:

Photo by Christy Frank

Christy Frank $100.00
“It does not matter that people know what you are doing, but rather that you do it.” — Gottfried Müller
Cheryl Horn
May your birthday bring more of their birthdays
B $10.00
John and Ashley Warnke
So happy o came across your post that John shared. Your photos are so inspiring! Just shows how one person can truly make a difference—keep up the good work! Hope you reach your goal!
Stumpy $30.00
Rotaract Club of Maumee $300.00
Love you!
Mick Horn
Happy Birthday Seester! And a happy to life to all the wonderful animals that will thrive in this section of rainforest. :)
Aunt Gail &Uncle Bob
Happy birthday my dear niece!
I am so very proud of you. You are a voice for the voiceless and a true friend of the Earth. God bless. I love you, my friend!
Eric Horn
I'm proud of you Christy!
Deborah Peters
Christy, what an important message you are getting out. Good luck with this.
Sasha V.
Great job in sharing your passion with the world and bring others to this amazing cause. Through our efforts, we can save these vital habitats for future generations.
Perrysburg KeyBank Team
The Perrysburg KeyBank team is honored to help support Christy Frank and this amazing group of selfless people that are working to save a beautiful and precious part of the world and some amazing creatures that need our help to save them from becoming extinct!!! Thank you for all that you are doing!!!

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