lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

O is for Orangutan

This post is slightly more outspoken than heretofore…

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.

Read more about orangutans here: Wikipedia and the IUCN Red List here: IUCN Red List .

If you’d like to ‘blog hop’ to another blog doing the A-Z challenge, click here: A-Z Challenge.

© Liz Brownlee – this post is copyright material with all rights reserved, please do not re-post elsewhere – you may link to it.


  1. Very Interesting- thank you for sharing this-


  2. Very thought provoking. I am going to try and find a way to reference this blog in my eco alphabet.


    • Thanks Susan, the more people know about pal oil the better! Very hard for people to give up favourite foods though. We also complain to shop keepers if we see them selling food with it in.


  3. Lorraine

    We avoid palm oil, and we shop as sustainably as we can. Until mankind learns that we can’t eat money, this kind of annihilation will go on.
    Lovely illustration, Liz.


  4. Liz

    I didn’t know palm oil came from rain forests. We buy palm oil here but it’s local stuff. And your drawing is beautiful.


  5. A very thoughtful and precious post. I remember when you first told me about the oil. I have never forgotten.


  6. oh my. thanks for making me aware of this issue. that drawing is beautiful.
    Happy A-Zing!


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