There 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.