Credits: Oleg Senkov/ Shutterstock

Palm Oil And Orangutans: The Heartbreaking Connection We Cannot Overlook

by | April 9, 2019

“Ohh, not the palm oil now!” My friend screamed into my ear when I mentioned that the seemingly innocent “vegan” palm oil could be the cause of unaccountable suffering of orangutans. While the sustainable form could be cruelty-free, the average variety in almost every household isn’t “kindly” cultivated at all. There’s more to it and needs to be discussed, even if it means scrapping off yet another product from your shopping list. (Look for the certificate of sustainable cultivation)

How can palm oil and orangutans possibly be connected? Read on to know more.

Can palm oil be responsible for the pitiable condition of Orangutans?
Credits: michel arnault/ Shutterstock

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Palm Oil And Orangutans: The Heartbreaking Connection We Cannot Overlook

palm oil and orangutans
Credits: AKKHARAT JARUSILAWONG/ Shutterstock

When you look closely around, you’ll find palm oil is in 50 percent of all household products. It is in your toothpaste, shampoo, peanut butter, cookies, detergent, makeup, lotions, and even “eco-friendly” lipsticks. Read the ingredients label and you’ll find it in the majority of finished products.

Though palm oil is technically vegan as it is derived from palm fruit, the catch is in the sacrifice it demands from innocent animals like orangutans, bears, elephants, tigers, monkeys, leopards and rhinoceros. With orangutans paying the hefty price of human consumption of palm oil, nearly 150,000 Bornean orangutans have been lost since 1999 to palm oil related human conflicts and habitat loss.

Orangutans are already a critically endangered species
Credits: AKKHARAT JARUSILAWONG/ Shutterstock

How palm oil is responsible for the plight of orangutans?

Sustainable production of palm oil is difficult because it requires large areas of land to be cleared for the cultivation of palm oil trees. It has been directly linked to the large scale deforestation drive in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Clearing large areas of forest to make the land suitable for cultivation of palm oil trees leaves the inhabitant orangutans homeless.

Watch this video and see for yourself, the tragic effects of human-wildlife conflict. In one such land-clearing drive, a brave orangutan tried to fight off the excavator from snatching away his home.

Palm Oil And Orangutans: The Heartbreaking Connection We Cannot Overlook

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Orangutans are suffering immensely in the indiscriminate drive to multiply the rate of palm oil production. Orangutan rescue societies, working to rescue and rehabilitate the adorable apes, have witnessed incidents as horrifying as finding them burned alive or hacked into pieces.

The wholesale destruction of the primates’ habitat can wipe out the entire population of orangutans in just 10 years. In the last 25 years, around 76 million acres of Indonesian forests have disappeared, reports Fortune. Fire becomes an effective strategy to clear the land, as it is also the most believable excuse – with orangutans as the victims but blame on no one.

A glimpse into the harrowing reality of Orangutans

A team of vets at Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), which works for the rescue and rehabilitation of orangutans, recently conducted surgery on a young female orangutan named Pertiwi. Pertiwi was rescued from an oil plantation area in Subussalam and was struggling to survive with a broken arm.

Budi is one of the 100 orphaned orangutan babies whose mothers have perished under the fire of human greed. From being locked up in an extremely small chicken cage to being rescued and treated at the orangutan rescue center in Borneo, Budi’s story is heartbreaking. He was lucky to be saved in the nick of time but several others from his species weren’t.

Budi, another orangutan rescued by IAR.
Palm Oil And Orangutans: The Heartbreaking Connection We Cannot Overlook

Palm oil certainly cannot be more valuable than the life of defenseless innocent animals, can it be? The next time you go shopping, please make it a point to look for the certificate of sustainable cultivation. You’ll be doing Orangutans a big favor.

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3 Responses to “Palm Oil And Orangutans: The Heartbreaking Connection We Cannot Overlook”

  1. michelle
    April 9th, 2019 @ 5:53 am

    Organisations engaged in this issue do not call for a blanket boycott of palm oil. Instead, consumers should demand deforestation-free Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

  2. Monique van Wijnbergen
    April 11th, 2019 @ 5:03 am

    Boycotting palm oil is not the solution as replacing it by other vegetable oils means even more land will have to be cleared, at the detriment of forests and wildlife. The sustainable palm oil solution is Palm Done Right, which stands for organic, deforestation-free, wildlife friendly, fair & social palm oil production. At the website you can find brands and retailers that partner with Palm Done Right and have taken a conscious decision to source palm oil for their product, while respecting people, animals and nature.

  3. Kenisha
    April 11th, 2019 @ 10:15 am

    I agree with Michelle. I have been reading lately about the destruction of the environment and animals due to palm oil, and it is so unfortunate that these animals have to suffer at the greed of people.

    I know about this organization that is called Palm done right, and I have been keeping updated with them for a while. It seems like they are in the right direction for sustainable palm oil, protecting animals and regenerating the earth. Hopefully, this is a better solution that producing conventional palm oil.

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