The palm oil industry is quickly eating up rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia as the demand for it increases. Deforestation is the primary threat to the orangutan, a species of great ape known for its keen intelligence and the fact that it is the largest animal to live primarily in trees.
Palm oil is estimated to be an ingredient in about 50% of consumer products. The products range from snack foods to shampoo, meaning it is difficult for consumers to always keep track of what is in every product in order to avoid it and so many do not even try.
Did you know that every hour, approximately 300 football fields of rain forest are cleared to make room for African oil palm trees, which can flourish anywhere that has intense heat and rainfall?
These trees make up palm oil plantations and are protected by owners who happen to see orangutans as “pests” that need to be exterminated. If the defenseless creatures are lucky, they simply become homeless and find shelter in other places, however, most of them are shot point blank by the plantation’s security personnel or are captured and sold into the illegal wildlife trade.
Orangutans are an important species to protect as they play a vital role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem. They help with spreading rain forest seeds whereby many can only germinate once passed through the gut of an orangutan, so therefore this particular primate’s existence is crucial for the forest.
Both the rainforest and the Sumatran orangutan population have decreased by 80% since the rise in palm oil demand. If this trend continues then wild orangutans could be extinct in 20 years.
Palm oil can be very difficult to avoid, but it is well worth the effort in order to avoid killing both our world’s rainforests and orangutans. Could you imagine a world in which children do not know what a rainforest looks like or that orangutans once lived in the wild simply because we could not be bothered to check the ingredients of our everyday products?
You can make a difference, one product at a time! Get educated on how to cut it out of your life and support organizations to protect the rainforest and the orangutans even when other consumers are not.