Orangutans – Victims of ‘sustainable’ palm oil in Indonesia

Digital Journal : Anne Sewell: 18 April 2013

Bumitama Gunajaya Agro (BGA), a palm oil company, have completely destroyed the rainforest for miles around in this area of Borneo, Indonesia. Sitting on top of what is left of the last tree, an orangutan looks helplessly on.

Using bulldozers and chainsaws, BGA are destroying the habitat of these endangered Borneo orangutans. Besides the orangutan found at the top of the last tree, three other half-starved orangutans were found crawling around in the stumps of the cleared rainforest. One a pregnant female, and the other a mother with her child clinging to her back. 

Adi Irawan of International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR) says, ‘There are more orangutans in the tiny remaining patches of forest in the plantation, along with other protected species such as proboscis monkeys.’

‘All of the animals on the plantation are threatened. The company must therefore stop clearing the rainforest immediately.’

While this is going on, it is amazing to find that the BGA, the palm oil producer destroying the habitat of these orangutans, has been a member of the The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), (the label for sustainable palm oil) since 2007. Their customers include IOI, Wilmar and Sinar, which are companies selling palm oil to the European food and consumer goods manufacturers as well as biodiesel producers.

The EU has recognized the RSPO as a certification system for sustainably produced biofuels. But now it turns out that RSPO members are going against the grain.

As the palm oil plantations expand, the habitat of orangutans and the immense biodiversity of tropical rainforests are being irreparably destroyed.

Orangutans are not welcome on the plantation clearings, which were once their home and could not survive there anyway. IAR has had no choice but to tranquilize the orangutans, capture them, and take them elsewhere, but hardly any replacement habitats remain for the animals.

Beyond this cleared rainforest all you can see for miles, and right up to the horizon, are the endless oil palm monocultures. Throughout Indonesia and in neighboring Malaysia, rainforests are being cut down for ever more oil palm plantations. Soon there will be no rainforest, or its previous inhabitants, left.

Rainforest Rescue are running a petition, stating that the RSPO is not fulfilling its promise and asking for an end to rainforest deforestation and palm oil imports. 

Because of the major environmental impact, palm oil has no place in our cleaning products, cosmetics or food, or even in the tanks of our vehicles.

Video:
In the video below, we can watch as International Air Rescue Indonesia, together with government conservation staff, rescued the four orangutans from the forest in Indonesian Borneo that was being bulldozed to make way for oil palm plantations in March 2013.

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Orangutans are endangered and at risk of extinction. Habitat destruction means hundreds of orphan orangutans need to care for every year. You can help by adopting one. Their dedicated ‘nannies’ teach them everything they need to know for when it’s time to release them back to the wild. You can follow their progress through Forest School.

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