Nicholas Daines Blog 2015

Entry (11) - October 2015 - House of Commons

The initial motivation to create this blog was to document my work as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK to raise awareness and educate about the terrible plight faced by these beautiful creatures in Borneo. I wanted to be able to share my personal journey with this amazing organisation and inspire others to get involved and see the bigger picture. – if we save the Orangtuan we will save our planet.

So why focus on Orangutans when we could just as easily focus on elephants or rhinos, and countless other species which occupy their own ecological niche alongside these great apes in the forests of Borneo? Well the crux of the matter is that the rainforest is their preferred habitat which is so integral to the health of the global environment – and therefore the Orangutan is the perfect ambassador for protecting the tropical rain forests that are essential for climate regulation. 

Orangutans are wide ranging solitary creatures that depend on hundreds of different plant species spread widely in the rainforest. This makes them the perfect umbrella species as by protecting their needs – by extension protect all the other species of the rainforest which plays such a vital role in combating climate change.

On the 28th October 2015 Orangutan Appeal UK had it’s prestigious annual reception at the House of Commons. The event was hosted by Bill Wiggin MP on behalf of the charity. The evening raised awareness of the threats to the endangered orangutan and the impact of deforestation on climate change.  Stanley Johnson, Bill Oddie OBE and Ian Redmond OBE (GRASP) were among the many important guests and leading conservationist Stanley Johnson was a guest speaker. Paul O’Grady, well known-presenter and comedian, was also announced by Orangutan Appeal UK as their new patron.

The event is gaining momentum year after year and it was also an incredible education hearing from experts who are on the front line of this state emergency for the Orangutan and flora and fauna of Borneo in wake of the forest fires raging there. The director of Outrop (Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project) Mark Harrison was also at the event to give a first hand account of the problem and why it is imperative that the rest of the world understands why these fires are happening.

There are a huge number of raging fires in fires Indonesia – over 117,000 fires have been detected by satellite in Indonesia this year, and most have been started deliberately to clear forest for farming of palm oil – destroying primary rainforest. There have been around 100,000 fires have burned in Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatland since July.

There are 358 “hot spots” within the Sabangau forest in Borneo that has the highest concentration of Wild Orangutans about 7,000 and they have detected fires Tanjung Puting National Park that has 6,000 Orangutans and Katingan Forest where 3,000 and the Mawas reserve where there are an estimated 3,500.

In there undisturbed state flooded peatland forests are naturally fire resistant –but decades of poor peatland management practices such as extensive forest clearance and canal construction has drained the peat putting the whole region of high fire risk when the inevitable droughts occur.

Dry peat ignites very easily and can burn for weeks, even smouldering underground and re-emerging away from the initial source.

Other species are also in terrible danger such as the clouded snow leopard and the iconic hornbill – the situation is dire and getting worse everyday.

The fight continues…

Entry (10) - August 2015

August offered yet more fantastic opportunities and equally memorable highlights. The month kicked off (literally) on the long-running hospital TV drama series ‘Holby City’ with a punch-up stunt doubling actor Jody Latham at Elstree studios.

I lead an unusually fast-paced international existence at times and less than 24 hours after filming at Elstree, I was boarding a jet plane bound for Los Angeles, California for my next assignment in Hollywood. Top stunt coordinator Greg Barnett gave me a fantastic stunt role in the new drama series ‘Criminal Minds – Beyond Boarders’. This spin-off from the 250+ episode success of its predecessor promises all the action and thrills of the original but on an international scale. Fear of the foreign and of foreigners is the premise of the show, therefore, it was extremely apt to take part in the very first episode of the series being an Englishman in L.A. It’s always so exciting to work in Los Angeles as it’s a real testament to all the hard work and determination it took to get there from the kid who grew up doing backflips in the garden in boring old Surrey, to eventually making his dream come true, working as a Hollywood stuntman.

What better way to celebrate a Hollywood gig at CBS Studios, than a trip to Vegas with family and friends. I had a blast with my Nephew, Ben Brookfield and my Niece, Farrah Brookfield. Although, we are twenty years apart by birth, my childish disposition more than makes up for the age gap and we had so much fun at pool parties and running around Vegas losing money and generally misbehaving in all the best places with the lovely Julia Smirnova.

Vegas was a fun interlude in mi Vida Loca but it was soon back to work and back on another jet plane back to the UK. There was important work to be done as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal and I take my duties for the charity very seriously indeed.

No sooner had I landed, I was in my car on a 4 1/2 hour drive to North Wales. I didn’t even stop to drop off my case at home – I just got in the car and drove. It was a beautiful summer evening and with the roof down on my BMW Z3 it helped keep me focused and awake while I fought the jet-lag from my 11-hour transatlantic flight.

As an international stuntman and TV presenter, what better way to raise funds for Orangutan Appeal UK than taking on the challenge of the fastest Zipline in the world and the longest in Europe. It seemed only fitting that I should put myself on the line (pun intended), as the future of the Orangutan is left hanging in the balance.

The OAUK team came up with the genius plan to help promote International Orangutan Day and raise awareness of the plight faced by these beautiful endangered creatures.

This once-in-a-lifetime thrill ride took place at Zipworld in the heart of Snowdonia, and even though I am used to adrenaline fuelled activities, I have to say that I certainly felt a fantastic rush plummeting 1100feet in less than a minute. It was the most amazing feeling to be flying through the air at speeds of up to 119mph at 500ft above the ground. Despite travelling at such great velocity, I still had time to take in the breathtaking scenery of in this little piece of paradise in North Wales.

The fundraising event was a massive success and I managed to raise over £1,500 for Orangutan Appeal UK to help keep up their vital work caring for orphaned and displaced Orangutans at Sepilok and rehabilitating them back into the forests of Borneo.

The story scored some great PR and I appeared on BBC Worldwide News to help bring the world’s attention to the fight to take the Orangutang off the endangered list https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCp1tCSDSok 

You can share in my epic aerial adventure on the zipline by clicking on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd6-Qek4c2k The awesome Go-Pro footage really gives you a real sense of just what I experienced.

Entry (9) - June 2015

I work so hard at where I’m going, that it’s easy to forget about all the things that have happened on the road i’ve been speeding along. I try to cram as much as I can in to every single day, but it’s important to stop, reflect and appreciate the journey itself. I’m often hard on myself with such a big ‘to do’ list, so I thought it would be a cathartic exercise to take stock, and review the last 3 months of the exciting and diverse life I lead.

June marked a momentous occasion in the Orangutan Appeal UK calendar.  Founder and Head Chef of the the Banana Tree restaurant group, William Chow and his beautiful wife Anne Chow hosted a fantastic event at their Soho location to present OAUK with a cheque for over £10,000. Banana Tree has been in partnership with Orangutan Appeal UK since 2011 and remains a vital campaign source for this groundbreaking charity.

As Amabssador for the charity I had the honour to say a few words about my personal journey with the charity so far and the incredible work of Sue Sheward MBE and her team at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo. The event was an enormous success and I also got to hang out with childhood favourite Bill Oddie. I was an avid fan of the ‘Goddies’ as a kid and the fact that I am now a fellow wildlife presenter alongside him with the same agent and management team was a real thrill.

June also saw a wrap on the epic motion picture Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur I’d been working on for over 3 months. I got to work with a fantastically talented and inspiring stunt team headed by the incredible Eunice Huthart. I never cease to be amazed by her tireless energy, enthusiasm and dedication to her film projects. I am humbled to be a part of such a creative process and privileged to perform awesome stunts with the best in the world. Directed by Guy Ritchie and Starring Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law and Eric Banna – this re-telling of the legend of King Arthur will be a surefire hit on it’s release next summer (2016).

So with another Hollywood blockbuster in the pipeline and working for a good cause, I figured it was time for a little rest and recuperation with a short break to Paris.

Entry (8) - 13.03.15 (Part 2)

One particular orphaned Orangutan that stole my heart on the show was Peanut. I remember watching the episode where he was terrified to climb. Watching him scream as he hung from a rope in the baby’s nursery was almost too much to bare. He was so tiny and so adorable and without his mother to help him learn these vital life skills his future was literally hanging in the balance.

To see the love and patience of Oragnutan Appeal UK founder Sue Sheward and the staff at centre, in the daily battle to help him overcome his fears and prepare him for a life in the trees was truly inspirational. I’m not sure if you remember, but it moved me so much that I went in to the gymnasium to record a piece for my blog swinging round the high bar and doing a few stylish Cirque du Soleil moves on the rope encouraging Peanut to climb 

Well I am delighted to report and show you, that Peanut is now an accomplished acrobat swinging from branch to branch like a pro and well on his way to being rehabilitated into the Kibili reserve. To witness first hand Peanut’s progress was amazing, and it was so gratifying to see that all the money raised through the Orangutan Appeal UK adoption scheme, sale of merchandise and donations goes directly to the care and personal development of these beautiful creatures.

The biggest highlight of my visit to Sepilok was to actually get to climb and hang around in the trees with all the Orangutan babies. What a life changing experience and one I will never forget! I was so lucky as Ambassador for the charity and I can’t thank Dr. Laura enough for her trust and support.  Climbing in the rainforest with Peanut and the gang was a once in a lifetime experience – and the best thing is that I  get to share it with you and raise the world’s awareness to the incredible work of the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre.

GREAT NEWS!!! – Peanut is now available to adopt on the Orangutan Appeal UK adoption scheme. Click on the link to adopt him today or contact adopt@orangutan-appeal.org.uk

Peanut is a naughty little thing though, and as you can see from this great video and piece that was published in the Metro – he gave me a nice whack on the head – ‘Watch TV Presenter get hit over the head by a cute baby Orangutan’ 

In a strange way, there was such poetic irony in Peanut’s slap – with the strong message that I should get out of ‘his’ forest as I don’t belong there. It felt as though the tables had been turned on mankind and it seems a fitting and sobering thought to finish my blog with today in light of the huge swathes of Orangutan habitat that is destroyed every single day by humans and the plight faced by these beautiful apes.

In my job as an international stuntman and TV presenter, I get to hang out with mega-stars all the time. I’ve worked with Angelina Jolie on ‘Maleficent’,  Brad Pitt on ‘World War Z’, Tom Cruise on ‘Mission Impossible 5′ and ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ – But, I’ve never been as starstruck as I was when I got to meet the stars of the hit Animal Planet TV series ‘Meet the Orangutans’ at Sepilok.

Entry (7) - 13.03.15 (Part 1)

Today was a very special day indeed. I got to meet my adopted Orangutan Bidu Bidu for the very first time – and it was one of the most memorable days of my life for many reasons.

This blog has been a journey as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK and this was without doubt one of the most spectacular highlights. I’ve never been involved with a charity before, and to be honest I had no real appreciation for the work that this amazing organisation does. So to be allowed into the belly of the beast as it were, and experience first hand just what the charity stands for and delivers on a daily basis was a true education.

The best thing is that it was all captured on camera so that I get to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with my followers and everyone else around the world!

As a presenter it’s my job to document a story in a totally natural and organic way – Well this particular video could not be more of a testament to that ethic, as it all just unravelled without effort before my eyes and the lens. To experience it for yourself click here

My cameraman for the day was Raymond Low and he did a great job keeping up with me and capturing the true emotion behind this unique experience.

It was an early start to capture the soft morning light for my first piece to camera. The beautiful lake of the Sepilok Nature Resort was a perfect backdrop. Then it was off to meet the caring staff that work so hard behind the scenes at the Sepilok Orangutan nursery. Years and years tireless dedication have made the centre a global phenomenon and linchpin in the continued survival of this incredible creature to keep the Orangutan from extinction.

I was given an extremely warm welcome by the head vet of the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, Dr. Laura – who took me in to the heart of the nursery to witness the busy morning routine in preparing the little baby Orangutans for the day.

It was at this point that I really began to understand just what the rehabilitation centre does and the fantastic work they do caring for the orphaned and displaced Orangutans. The happy and communicative screams of the babies as they received their morning formula was overwhelming. This was a place of complete love and devotion and it was extremely moving to witness.

As you can see in the picture above anyone entering the nursery must wear protective masks, gloves and wellington boots to minimise the risks of passing on any potentially harmful pathogens or disease to the vulnerable baby Orangutans. It certainly made making my documentary and interviewing key figures at the centre an unexpected challenge!

Nic Sm2

Nic Sm3

When I first arrived in Sepilok, Sue Sheward MBE, the founder of Orangutan Appeal UK, was keen to impress upon me that I would not be able to touch or hold the Orangutans during my visit for several very important reasons.  The main one being that baby Orangutans have a very fragile immune systems and so minimising contact severely reduces the risk of passing on any communicable diseases that might be detrimental to the health of the little ones. I had to provide my medical history to the centre including proof of Tuberculosis immunisation. Secondly, it is essential that throughout the rehabilitation process the baby Orangutans are not ‘humanised’ and do not become dependent on human interaction and contact. This constantly allows the babies to constantly develop and nurture their wild instincts and survival skills, so that one day they can be released back in to the rainforest.

Therefore, when Dr. Laura allowed me to lift my adopted Orangutan Bidu Bidu on to the examination table for his daily medical, (while under expert supervision), when I met him for the very first time – I could hardly contain my excitement and this really comes across in the video! It was so unexpected and such an enormous privilege – I couldn’t quite believe it was happening.  I was already pretty emotional from the whole experience, but having physical contact and being able to hold his hand just about sent me over the edge. It was so powerful. Baby Orangutans are cutest of animals and their adorable little faces, awkward physicality and vulnerability is enough to melt the coldest of hearts.

Being immersed in the activity of the nursery certainly highlighted just how vital Orangutan Appeal UK is to the centre providing funding that goes directly back to the care and survival of this great ape. It’s hard to express in words just what an emotional experience this was for me – but you can see from the film just how choked up I was! Just being in their mere presence was enough to lose it , but I was also brimming with pride to be a part of this amazing organisation.

Bidu Bidu is just one of many orphaned and displaced Orangutan babies at the centre that need our help. Please donate today online athttp://www.orangutan-appeal.or... or contact adopt@orangutan-appeal.org.uk

Entry - (6) 12.03.15

A quick and easy flight from Kota Kinabalu, arriving safely in Sandakan with Sue Sheward MBE.

Then it was straight off to Sepilok and the home of my adopted orphaned Orangutan Bidu Bidu!

When Sue told me we were off into the jungles of Borneo, I imagined tents or mud huts in the middle of the rainforest – so you can imagine the very pleasant surprise discovering the elegant style and sophistication of our accommodation at Sepilok Nature Resort. I have never been made to feel so welcome anywhere in my life and for anyone travelling to this part of the world this place is a MUST! The owners Mr. Ken Chung and his wonderful wife Mrs. Lycia Chung absolutely spoiled me and I am forever grateful for their amazing hospitality.

It was so exciting to be in Sepilok and one step closer to meeting my adopted Orangutan. My experience of seeing Orangutans swinging free for the first time had been unexpectedly emotional and I knew meeting Bidu Bidu would be that much more intense. For anyone who missed my experience at the Rasa Ria reserve please check out the video and – click here

There was no time to rest though for our team as we’d arrived in Sepilok just in time to experience the feeding platform at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre.

It was also a very proud moment to wear my official uniform as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK.

My first feeding platform experience at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre was phenomenal. I recognised quite a few familiar faces from the meet the Animal Planet series ‘Meet The Orangutans’ – The naughty Ceria in Particular!

Nic Sm

Here are 32 very good reasons not to get too close to an Orangutan! Ceria is such a character though and he came right down to sit with the tourists on the public viewing deck. Absolutely magic to watch! I also recognised Boogie Boy at the feeding platform too who was recently released and rehabilitated in to the Kibili Reserve. It was wonderful to see him thriving in the wild and showing what the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre and Oragutan Appeal UK do really works!

Tomorrow is a very big day for me when I meet Bidu Bidu….so please stay tuned to my next blog!

Entry - (5) 11.03.15

Today was a very special day indeed. It started with some great morning filming – presenting on the beach and raising awareness of the 64 acres of protected endemic forest at the Rasa Ria Resort in Borneo, assigned purely for Orangutan rehabilitation and conservation.

Then it was my turn to go in to the reserve and try to find an Orangutan here in Boreno for the first time!

I looked and looked – scouring the forest canopy for one….(whilst modelling Orangutan T-shirt designs of Jacha Potgieter – You will be able to purchase these very soon and all precedes go to Orangutan Appeal UK )

Suddenly there was a movement in the trees…And finally I found this little perfect piece of nature!…Meet Itanban

Video watch now

It was a joy to see him come swinging towards me in the trees above my head. He made his way right down to me on the forest floor. I made sure to keep my distance as it is important the Orangutans in the reserve remain as wild as possible at this vital stage in their rehabilitation – so human contact must be minimal. It was difficult presenting to camera as I had to keep my wits about me because Itanban was continually curious of me and the camera

I have to say seeing an Orangutan up close and personal swinging free like this in the reserve was extremely emotional. I wasn’t ready for the massive emotional pull that it would have. They are just so beautiful, and you get an overwhelming sense of just how special this species really is.

What an amazing experience. Thank you again to Sue Sheward and Orangutan Appeal UK for this incredible opportunity.

Entry - (4) 10.03.15

I can’t quite believe it, but I am in Borneo! Thankfully I didn’t disappear on my Malaysian Airways flight and the arrival in to Kota Kinabalu airport gave the most spectacular views of Mount Kinabalu from the air.

Touching down in Kota Kinabalu as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK, my envoy duties began immediately with a meeting with the new director of the Sabah Wildlife department Mr. William Baya. Conservation in Borneo is a collaborative effort and Orangutan Appeal UK works in conjunction with Sabah Wildlife in Sepilok and in the Orangutan reserve at the Rasa Ria Resort.

It was amazing to see just how well respected Orangutan Appeal UK is here and the was certainly highlighted as I found myself shaking hands with the Minister of Environment and Tourism for Borneo at an incredible sunset banquet on the beach.

It was a fantastic and extremely educational introduction to Orangutan Appeal UK’s work out here in Borneo and I can’t wait to contribute.

Entry - (3) 12.02.15

Just three weeks to go now until my inaugural visit to Borneo as Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK.

The more I get involved in the work of this amazing charity, the more it becomes apparent that although the Orangutans in the forests of Borneo seem like a long way away, what is happening to these beautiful creatures affects us all.

The impact of deforestation has put the Orangutan on the endangered species list. Huge swathes of forest the size of Panama are lost each and every year. Trees play a vital role in the absorption of greenhouse gases that fuel global warming – fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering our atmosphere resulting in increased speed and severity of global warming.

Orangutans and humans are incredibly similar and unless we act now and acknowledge the plight of this wonderful animal to  change the world as a whole – it’s a matter of time before it’s our turn!

Nicholas YouTube piece to camera 

Entry - (2) 03.02.15

Meet Peanut! He is absolutely adorable but he is afraid to climb. Without his mother to teach him the ropes, Peanut is struggling to get to grips with things.

So for today’s entry for my blog I took to the gym, not only to make sure I’m fit enough to  swing from the trees with the Oragutans when I get to Borneo, but to give Peanut a little encouragement and show him how it’s done! Check out my video on youtube

Here you can get to see Peanut in action in the trailer for the up coming Animal Planet series "Meet The Orangutans"

Entry - (1) 01.02.15

It is an honour and a privilege to be awarded the role of Ambassador for Orangutan Appeal UK and I can’t wait to get stuck in and carry on the important work this incredible charity is doing.

My first trip to Borneo as an official envoy is just 5 weeks away and I can hardly contain my excitement.

This is an amazing opportunity to experience first hand the plight faced by these beautiful creatures and witness the destruction of their habitat.

Through my journey and blog I want to share with you just what it’s like to experience Borneo and the work of Orangutan Appeal UK at the Sepilok rehabilitation centre, and to capture meeting the Orangutans up close and personal for the very first time.

I am particularly excited to meet my adopted orphaned Orangutan Bidu Bidu. He looks absolutely adorable and to be able to be part of his rehabilitation is very special indeed.

So as I end my first official blog entry, I would just like to say another heartfelt thank you to CEO and founder of Orangutan Appeal UK, Sue Sheward, for letting me be a part of it and for making the world a better place!

Cape Town 2015

Nicholas Pic