from the Humane Society of the United States in the Outstanding Written/Magazine category on March 23rd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Hollywood. It was a great event. The next day there was a black-tie gala where the movies and television shows that further our understanding and concern for the plight of our fellow animals were honored. It was deeply moving to be in a room with hundreds of compassionate animal lovers. I met one man who has left his entire estate “for the benefit of cats,” and the Swiss photographer and film-maker Karl Amman who lives in Kenya and won a Genesis award for his latest documentary about the use of python skins for luxury hand bags. His book about the bushmeat trade, Consuming Nature, which he presented me with a copy of, is harrowing and superb. Karl and I have been to many of the same remote parts of Africa and have many friends in common. It was surprising that our paths had not crossed before.
On Sunday I had a six-hour lunch with Dr. Birute Galdikas, the indefatigable champion of the embattled orangutans of Borneo, who is a major figure in a Vanity Fair story I just turned in. Our trajectories have remarkable parallels. We should all do everything we can to help this great lady keep the orangutans with us. Their rainforest is disappearing, being converted to oil palm plantations. As she urged at the acceptance speech for the Imax film, Born to be Free, which is about her efforts to reintroduce captive orangutans to the wild, and Dame Daphe Sheldrick’s efforts to rehabilitate orphan elephants and return them to their forest and savanna, we should all avoid consuming cookies, cosmetics, and other products whose ingrededients include palm oil.
I’ll be in L.A. till the end of the week wheeling and dealing for this Web site and trying to make other consciousness-raising projects happen.