Have you ever gazed into the eyes of a baby orangutan? If not, I urge you to get on photo viewing website of choice and do it now (warning: your heart may burst).
The sad thing is – within the next 5-10 years, the internet may be the only place the orangutan will exist. Orangutan populations have diminished by 50% in just 10 years, making them very much on the endangered list.
Orangutans are truly incredible creatures and share 97% of DNA in common with humans. However, it is humans that have become their biggest threat. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 300 football field sized areas of of land are cleared every hour to make way for palm oil plantations. This is an outrage on so many levels, if not for the innocent deaths of some 3000 Orangutans each year, but for the massive amounts of carbon emissions released in the process.
There is some hope, with centers such as the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme rescuing orangutans from deforestation and crimes delivered by plantation workers or from being poached for the illegal pet trade. These rescue centers offer virtual adoptions of orangutans in their care to ensure they receive everything they need before they can be released safely back into the forests.
However, an intelligent, sentient being like the orangutan, the person of the forest as their name literally translates to, should have the right to a safe home in the first place.
Consumers need to demand responsibly sourced palm oil and companies need to make commitments towards no deforestation and ethically sourced palm oil. There is a crucial need for companies to be transparent in labelling of palm oil, and for consumers to be aware of where the palm oil is coming from.
So next time you think about opting for a product containing conflict palm, picture these little guys, and think again.
The Australian Government needs to turn over a new leaf and introduce the mandatory ingredient labelling of palm oil so that we as consumers can make informed choices in our every day purchase decisions. Sign the petition here: http://bit.ly/1VryJAs or lend your support through A New Leaf Project’s Thunderclap profile: http://thndr.me/DLfSBs to help amplify the message!
By Chelsea W | A New Leaf Project