The Future Of Endangered Orangutans Is In Your Hands

Written by Ashley Schaeffer

Topics: Agribusiness

share this story
facebook twitter email stumble upon
Get Forest Alerts

Mother and baby orangutanThere has been an overwhelming amount of attention paid recently to the plight of Indonesia’s most iconic species due to habitat loss.

Last month the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated the status of Sumatran elephants to critically endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species, a category which Sumatran orangutans and rhinoceros’ are already part of. From the Jakarta Globe to AlJazeera, people are sounding the alarm for these endangered species more than ever before. But who is listening?

In Indonesia, rapidly expanding oil palm plantations have already spread into millions of acres of rainforests and threaten millions more, making palm oil a leading cause of the deforestation that is responsible for wiping out critical habitat and threatening the very survival of endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and wild Sumatra and Borneo Orangutans. With more than five acres of Indonesia’s rainforest lost every minute, Indonesia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 98% of the remaining orangutan habitat in Borneo and Sumatra outside of protected areas could be destroyed by 2022.

As oil palm and pulp & paper plantations expand, human vs. wild species conflicts surge. This is well documented for both orangutans and Sumatran tigers. The decline of both species stems primarily from the constant encroachment of human development into their habitat. Of the 400-odd tigers left in Sumatra, less than a third are thought to be living in areas set aside for conservation purposes.

What chances do orangutans have for survival when palm oil company executives are reported to be offering up to $100 to employees for each orangutan killed on palm oil plantations? Employees are not only encouraged to kill orangutans, which are considered ‘pests’ to plantation workers, but there is a growing illegal trade in orangutan skulls.

What will it take to stop this injustice? We need your help. It’s not too late to save these incredible species, but time is running out.

6 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. erika ballinas says:

    A few years ago, I heard that Nestlé stop using palm oil on its products but now I see it was not true.

  2. Priscilla says:

    C est terrible ce qui se passe la ba que fait la communote internationale on ne l entend pas . Pour ma part je fait tres attention de ne pas acheter des produit contenant de l huile de palme j en parle autour de moi mais c est tellement peu .il faudrait faire plus de campagne sur les radios et la television beaucoup de personnes ne savent pas ce qui se passe la ba.

  3. grace says:

    This is sooooooo bad orangutans are my favorote animal. I don’t eat palm oil but so many people do. In class we are learning about it and I am so mad.

  4. Lila says:

    I hope and pray that something will be done soon to stop this mass murder of Orangutans in Indonesia!!! It’s incredibly frustrating to be on the other side of the world watching this tragedy occur and feeling absolutely helpless/unable to save the Orangutans from danger.

    Palm oil is used in over 50% of all grocery store products from food (cookies, chocolate, cereals, ice cream, chips, Nutella, and most processed foods) to soap, dishwashing detergent, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, lotion, laundry detergent, and cosmetics. What’s worse, in many products, palm oil is disguised under a bunch of different chemical names (e.g. “vegetable oil,” sodium lauryl sulfate in soaps/detergents).

    It may seem like there’s not much we can do. And while we certainly care about the Orangutans and are not the ones burning their habitats in Indonesia, WE–consumers–ARE PROVIDING the DEMAND for PALM OIL! But here are a few things we can do: Given that demand for palm oil is so high, we–the consumer–also have the opportunity to make a difference.

    Here are some things we CAN do:

    •We–each consumer–can go palm oil-free (give up palm oil products) where we can! (As yummy as choccolates and Nutella are, when I see that palm oil is listed as an ingredient and I think of the suffering and death Orangutans and other wildlife must endure, I am more than willing to give it up)

    •Where we can’t go completely palm oil-free (nearly all soaps, toothpastes, detergents, and shampoos contain chemicals produced from palm trees), we can cut down the amount of the product we consume! (if I squirt less soap or shampoo every time I use these products–because I honestly don’t need a huge glob every single time–I can decrease the amount of soap, etc. that I use in a month, a year, … And in the long run, that makes a difference!)

    And last but not least,

    •Petition, tweet, share this information on what’s happening in Indonesia with your friends and family! We, each one of us, can make a difference if we put our heart into it!

  5. Laura says:

    So sad…I work with their amazing cousins the chimps – they laugh, they get scared, they play games, think and feel. If this was a communtiy of people there would be outrage, we didnt evolve to some great species and if we let them vanish then we lose part of what makes us human…we must be able to do something to stop what essentially is genocide of a race

  6. Stop the demand for palm oil, go palm oil free to prevent the deforestation and loss of critical species, and specially orangutans which are our cousins.

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. What Does the 2012 Farm Bill Have to Do with Palm Oil? » Rainforest Action Network Blog

Leave a Comment Here's Your Chance to Be Heard!

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.