Orangutans are highly intelligent and share 97% of their DNA with humans. When they cry they sound like a human crying and as fully grown adults they have the intelligence level of a 5 year old.
Mothers only have one baby at a time and spend at least eight years nurturing their child, one of the longest nurturing periods in nature and akin to humans. They are arboreal creatures, living in the trees of the Indonesian and Sumatran rainforests.
Orangutans’ endemic rainforest habitat is being logged to make way for palm oil plantations. Around 71000 football fields are logged daily. This means that starving orangutan mothers and their babies are forced to try and get food wherever they can, including entering the plantations. Often farmers are shooting the mothers on site and then selling the babies into the illegal pet trade, where they often die of shock or malnutrition.
Because of the palm oil industry, orangutans are now critically endangered with only a few thousand left in the wild and their numbers dwindling rapidly.
About Palm Oil
This industry along with sugar and wheat is one of the biggest global agricultural industries in the world. Palm oil is contained in almost every processed food that is on supermarket shelves.
From shampoo and soap, to household cleaners, biscuits and chocolate. It can be called a vast variety of names. However you can download and print this handy guide, which outlines all of the main names.
Tips for avoiding buying products with palm oil
- When in doubt- just stay away from processed foods in the middle isles of the supermarket to begin with! These foods have been linked with diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol anyway.
- Check this list of products, subscribe to their newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news on the palm oil trade.
- Avoid certain brands of chocolate – see here
- Campaign to your government about changing food packaging to include a label to indicate when products contain palm oil.
Go to Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF). They help to rescue orangutans stranded, trapped or stolen on palm oil plantations. They rehabilitate them from some of the most shocking conditions and then eventually release them back into the wild.
Adopt here. It costs $120 per year to save an orangutan’s life.
Just like with hens in battery cages, this is the sort of thing that a tide of consumer change can precipitate. Governments are generally far more slow moving than the force of consumer choice en masse. Just like with free range eggs, once enough people make the choice to move away from products containing palm oil, the food industry will change and the palm oil trade will slowly die.