The 19th of August is International Orangutan Day, a day put aside to recognize the extreme dangers facing the palm oil industry’s most recognized victim. Once widespread throughout the forests of Asia, Orangutans are now found on just two islands, Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia). On the brink of extinction, there are now only about 6,600 of them left in the wild. Orangutan’s are beautiful, intelligent creatures that share 97% of human DNA. They are complex, curious, and they need our help. We cannot let Orangutan’s become the first great ape species to go extinct in the wild, as experts suggest may happen if action is not taken now.
Why Orangutans are Endangered:
Habitat Loss- The loss of Orangutan habitat has been devastating, as Sumatra has lost more than HALF of it’s forests in the last 25 years. “The orangutans’ forest home is being felled and turned into oil palm plantations on a massive scale, logging continues even within national parks, and road networks divide the remaining forests into isolated fragments. Human-orangutan conflict is now frequent in farmlands, as orangutans raid crops in search of enough food for survival. The expansion of farmlands and the building of new roads opens up the forest, making it easier for hunters and poachers to capture orangutans and other protected wildlife.” (1) This factor is one of the driving forces behind our mission, as we work to provide a source for beautiful wood furniture that does not contribute to mass deforestation.
Illegal Trade- While Orangutan’s have been protected by law since 1931, the illegal trade of Orangutans has continued to decimate populations. They are often captured for use as an exotic pet or for entertainment purposes, as commonly seen in the circus.
What We Can Do To Help:
- Avoid Palm Oil- Palm oil is causing mass deforestation of Orangutan habitats, leaving them with no place to live and raise their babies. As they search far distances for a new home, they have to look further and further apart often times ending up in palm oil fields. When this occurs they are unknowingly tresspassing, and palm oil farmers are legally able to kill them right on spot to protect their crops. Orangutans are left with little to no food or resources, and when deforestation from fires occur there are many slow moving Orangutans that are burned alive in the process. By Boycotting palm oil, you are doing a small part to keep these majestic creatures safe.
- Boycott circuses that use Orangutans as entertainment, and write to your local government to keep these circuses from your community.
- Write to your local legislators and The President. Ask them not to explore palm oil as a biofuel option.
- Write your favorite companies that use palm oil and ask them to use sustainable sources for their ingredients
- Support companies who do not use palm oil in their products or support the palm oil industry
- Adopt a Orangutan (Virtually!)
- Sign Petitions that promote Orangutan safety
As passionate environmental advocates, we are happy to help spread awareness about Orangutan’s today. If you’d like to learn more about World Orangutan Day, check out the #OrangutanDay hashtag on Twitter or Facebook!
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