Many of you will be aware that EIA launched its summer appeal this week. We are asking you, our supporters, to help us thwart the expansion of oil palm companies in Indonesia into rainforests and so help safeguard an animal being pushed to extinction – the orangutan.
It’s hard to get a truly accurate picture of just how many orangutans exist in the wild today, as estimated numbers vary. It would seem that there are only 30,000-50,000 left in the wild, with two-thirds of those living in the Kalimantan forests of Borneo.
One fact that unites all the experts is that orangutan numbers are declining sharply and, very soon, they may only survive in zoos and designated conservation areas.
It’s no coincidence that Borneo and Sumatra, the two islands that are home to orangutans, have experienced an explosion in the area of monoculture plantations during the past decade. The expansion of these plantations into forests – largely for palm oil, but also fast-growing timber species for the pulp and paper industry – has devastated the habitat of orangutans.
More recently, there have been horrific cases of plantation companies paying for people to hunt down and kill orangutans in their concessions because they are regarded as ‘pests’.
The pressures on orangutan habitat show no sign of abating as worldwide demand for the product is on the increase, and the criminals killing them more often than not go unpunished.
Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil and can be found in literally thousands of products that we use every day, completely unaware of how it was produced. It’s in products ranging from soaps, shampoos and other cosmetics to countless foodstuffs including chocolates, cereals, soups, dairy products and crisps; the list goes on and on. Palm oil’s popularity is due to the fact that it is comparatively low in cost to produce and readily available.
EIA is fighting to ensure the crooks behind the illegal deforestation driving the orangutan to extinction are brought to justice.
We have campaigned to save Indonesia’s forests for more than a decade now and have had much success, helping to reduce illegal logging by 50 percent in the past 10 years. The road ahead is long and hard, but the clock is ticking for the orangutan.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the orangutans’ plight and the work EIA is doing to combat the widespread deforestation in Kalimantan, then please get in touch. And if you’d like to donate to our current appeal and so play a vital role in supporting our work, you can do so here.