O is for Orangutan
Orangutans are wonderful. Beautiful, gentle, intelligent – and they are very, very vulnerable.
The forests both Sumatran and Bornean orangutans live in are being cut down mainly for plantations of palm oil.
If you go into your kitchen and start looking at your labels, you will find that palm oil is in almost every type of food. It is cheap, it is plentiful, it holds its form, it is a good ‘filler’ in food, its use is ubiquitous and it is the cause of a terrifying amount of rainforest loss and all the lives that depended on it.
Because it’s not just orangutans. Literally hundreds of life forms live in every single rainforest tree. Where do they go when the rainforest is cut down? There is nowhere for them to go. Often they’re burnt along with the trees.
137 plant, animal and insect species is lost every single day due to rainforest deforestation. 50,000 species a year.
That is scary. And tragic. All because we want cheap biscuits. Our family has addressed this as far as we can by looking at every label and refusing to buy anything that does not contain sustainably farmed palm oil, and by rejecting anything that names just ‘palm oil’ or anonymous ‘vegetable fat’, as some manufacturers call it less emotively.
There is a poem in my book Animal Magic about orangutans. I have posted the picture above which one I drew, not the beautiful illustration in my book, painted by Rose Sanderson.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has classified Bornean orangutans as Endangered and Sumatran orangutans as Critically Endangered. 80% of their forests have been cut down. Scientists think they will be extinct within 10 years unless deforestation can be halted.
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