Orangutans on the brink of extinction, let's save their home

Orangutans are on the brink of extinction. The natural rainforest, the main habitat for orangutans, is being destroyed throughout Indonesia. The jungle is replaced by palm oil plantations. Its fruits are harvested to produce cheap vegetable oil that ends up in more than half of the products in our supermarkets. That is to say, our unconscious consumption of certain products contributes to the indiscriminate felling of the forest. Therefore, inadvertently, we are collaborating with the extinction of orangutans. 

Article index

  • Emma Thompson: "If we want to save orangutans from extinction, we must save their home "
  • Palm oil can be obtained without destroying rainforests
  • Businesses must take responsibility 
  • Forests are the lungs of the planet
  • Rang-tan, a short film dedicated to the 25 orangutans that die every day

Emma Thompson: "If we want to save orangutans from extinction, we must save their home "

A wild female orangutan, Rosa, searches for fruit in a tree in Gunung Palung National Park, a protected area in Kalimantan © Jurnasyanto Sukarno / Greenpeace

Rescued orangutans, stripped of their home, their independence, and often their family, are always cared for by dedicated people. But the resources are scarce, really insufficient. Shrines are overcrowded and rescues are stressful and annoying for all concerned.

For every orangutan that survives, many more die. Rescue work is vital, but it is the last resort. It is a losing battle unless the problem is addressed at the source. There is no other way to do it. "If we want to save orangutans from extinction, we must save their home ", tells us Emma Thompson, the English actress who collaborates with Greenpeace.

A caregiver hugs an orangutan who lives at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan © Bjorn Vaugn / BOSF / Greenpeace

Palm oil can be obtained without destroying rainforests

Greenpeace is working hard to get brands to clean up their palm oil supply chains. We must force big companies to buy palm oil only from companies that have no links to deforestation. Only then can we create lasting change within the industry that has a positive impact. But, How can we force these companies? Well, in a very simple way, consuming products without palm oil or with sustainable palm oil.

Businesses must take responsibility 

Almost a decade ago, some of the largest companies on the planet, including Unilever, Nestlé, and Mondelez (now Cadbury 's parent company), among others, promised to end their involvement in tropical deforestation by 2020. Now, they have less than 400 days to make that promise a reality.

Despite having policies of ‘no deforestation ’, no large companies have turned away 'dirty' palm oil suppliers  (palm oil grown on recently deforested land).

Deforestation for palm oil in Central Kalimantan © Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

What they have done instead is trust the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO is an industry body responsible for certifying "clean" plantations. But again and again the RSPO has been turning a blind eye to producers and traders who break the rules.

Greenpeace linked Wilmar, supplier to all the companies mentioned above, to the destruction of tropical forests. Wilmar is the world's largest palm oil trader, and a member of the RSPO board. With this policy of looking the other way, the destruction of the jungle and the consequent extinction of the orangutans does not stop. This can't go on like this.

Forests are the lungs of the planet

In the last 16 years, 100,000 orangutans have died (about 25 every day) mainly due to deforestation. Some farmers frightened them they shoot after they flee the forest onto farmland, orphaning dozens of baby orangutan. Some orangutans starve due to habitat loss. Others die when they cut down the tree they cling to. OR they suffocate and burn with forest fires that are deliberately set to clear land for planting.

A stranded orangutan clings to a lone tree in a palm oil clearing in West Kalimantan © Alejo Sabugo / International Animal Rescue Indonesia

In addition to orangutans, Sumatran tigers, rhinos and elephants have drastically declined. And the people are also suffering. Conflict over land also causes violence. Human rights abuses are common. Indigenous peoples are losing their homes. In the last 25 years, in Indonesia, a forest area the size of the UK has been lost. This undermines all efforts to tackle climate change and affects the whole planet.

For too long, the big brands and companies that buy palm oil have had their way. Y for too long our response to orangutan extinction has been one of pity. We say: ‘Ohhh, the poor ones ’, when they show us pictures of them orphans, thin and about to die. More is needed. Change is possible, we can and must do it.

Rang-tan, a short film dedicated to the 25 orangutans that die every day

Greenpeace has asked Emma Thompson to narrate a new short film. An animation designed to highlight the problem and highlight the power we all have to help our red-haired cousins. It is just the beginning of a new global campaign to tackle this problem once and for all.

400 days may seem few, but collectively make a lot of noise, demand answers and force change. Do more than feel sorry for these beautiful creatures. In return, we can act to feel that exhilarating mix of fear and fascination towards orangutans.. And want to witness that they live wild once again.

Source: Emma Thompson and Greenpeace 

Summary Article Name Orangutans are on the brink of extinction Description Orangutans are on the brink of extinction. Natural rainforest is replaced by palm oil plantations from greedy companies.

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