Ashley Leiman founded the Orangutan Foundation UK in 1990. One of the leading figures in orangutan conservation, Ashley spends approx a third of her year in the field ( predominantly in Indonesian Borneo). She is also leading our Borneo Orangutan Conservation Tour.

We asked Ashley to share her thoughts on who inspired her to do what she does, what advice she would give and more…

1. What was your earliest childhood ambition?

I wanted to be an explorer and showjumper.

2. What motivates you to do what you do?

The world would be a poorer place without the tropical forest and life within.

3. Who has inspired you to do what you do?

Growing up I wanted to be Albert Schweitzer, the French-German theologian, organist, philosopher and physician. I was moved by his words – “Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

4. What inspires you?

My first experience in 1974 in the rainforests of Malaysia, I knew I was ‘home.’ Today it’s the continued motivation and enthusiasm of our Indonesian staff and knowing we make a difference.

5. If your 20-year-old self could see you now what would she think?

Not surprised. I was never mainstream. But hopefully proud of what I have achieved.

6. in what place are you happiest?

Remote Scotland and in my workplace in Kalimantan.

7. do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes, but with work 6,532 miles away I have no choice but to travel by air. However, I rarely take holidays…

8. the one essential you travel with?

Reading light.

9. your best piece of travel advice?

Read at least one book on your destination. Take your curiosity with you and don’t be afraid of new experiences.

10. what advice would you give to young ladies wishing to follow in your footsteps?

They are future conservationists – change is in their hands.

11. if you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

I wouldn’t change anything. Any earlier and I wouldn’t have the wisdom and experience.

Thanks for reading

Author: Steppes Travel