lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

O is for Orangutan


Pregnant orangutan clinging to the last tree in rainforest felled for palm oil    Caters News Agency.


80% of the rainforest in Sumatra and Borneo, where orangutans live, has been cut down in the last twenty years. In only ten years time, there will be no orangutans left unless something is done very quickly to save where they live – and the answer lies in YOUR hands.

Most of the rainforest is being replanted for palm oil. Palm oil is easy to grow and cheap to produce. It is now in 8 out of every 10 products in the supermarket at which you buy your food.

It is used as a cheap bulking agent and it stays stable so is used for biscuits and processed foods.

Practically everything you buy has it in – even soap powder for washing clothes.

Are you buying Easter eggs for this weekend? Lindt, Guylian and Thorntons are the biggest users of palm oil in their chocolate. Only Divine and Booja Booja Easter Eggs do not contain palm oil, if that horrifies you.

A lot of the rainforest is just burnt, and as orangutans are slow movers, they burn with the forest.

Sometimes the forest is logged, and they are shot instead. Occasionally rescue groups are called, and as in the case of the orangutan above, in the last tree, they are darted and rescued – usually starving, as they have been coraled in smaller and smaller pieces of forest as the trees are chopped down. The orangutans in the group above had been eating bark.

Sadly it is almost impossible to avoid palm oil altogether.

If you notice a food you use has ‘palm oil’, ‘palm fat’, or the term ‘vegetable oil’ written on the label (without saying which vegetable oil, this is a way to disguise it) you can write an email to the manufacturer, or a letter, or phone their customer services up and ask them to stop using it. They do take notice of their customers. They do not take notice of orangutans.

Please do think about emailing, it takes seconds.

Bjorn Smestad

Orangutan photo by Bjørn Smestad on Flikr.



Photo at top © Caters News Agency

Poem © Liz Brownlee

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. They are really close to us human 🙂


    • Aren’t they just? Really and truly gentle – although apparently they go through a naughty teenager phase!


  2. Gorgeous Liz and a chilling photo x


  3. Liz

    Lovely poem – heart-rending picture.


    • I know, I cried for quite some time after seeing it and reading the accompanying article.


  4. Oh I am in tears right now and I am glad you are bringing it to your A to Z Challenge. My favourite ape is the Orangutan and to see this breaks my heart. I will write and pray that something else can be done. I wonder how this pregnant orangutan is doing now??


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