The orangutan is a large, mainly solitary arboreal ape with long red hair, long arms, and hooked hands and feet. It is native to Borneo and Sumatra. There are two different types of orangutans, one is the Borneo orangutan and the other one is the Sumatran Orangutan. Many orangutans have either been killed off or forced to move from their habitats, which results in death. As a result, there are only about 230,000 orangutans in the world and the species is endangered. Deforestation is the primary threat to the orangutan, a species of great ape known for its keen intelligence and the fact that it’s the largest animal to live primarily in trees.
Deforestation is the main threat to orangutans. Deforestation is the cutting down and removal of all or most of the trees in a forested area. Deforestation can erode soils, contribute to desertification and the pollution of waterways, and decrease biodiversity through the destruction of habitat. Some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 36 football fields every minute. It has been found that 80 percent of Borneo’s tropical landscape has been degraded by logging, largely due to timber or palm oil production. Sumatra has the highest rate of forest rate in the world due to palm oil production and other development. It is because of deforestation that orangutans are nearing extinction.
Due to deforestation, orangutans have been struggling to find food and have been pushed away from their natural habitats. It is believed up to 1,000 orangutans are killed every year because of palm oil plantations. When forced to leave their habitat, the orangutans are then made an easy target for hunters looking for bush meat or they slowly starve to death. Orphan orangutans are sold as pets in the black market and their living conditions are poor. Often orangutans die or are terribly injured during and after the process of deforestation.
There are organisations that help orangutans, especially orphans, after deforestation. Rescued orangutans are given medical attention. Rescued and orphaned orangutans can roam safely in the trees within the enclosure, providing them with more freedom and independence whilst they are rehabilitated to oneday return to the wild. Orangutans lucky enough to be rescued are rehabilitated and cared for until they were deemed suitable for their release into the wild. However, there isn’t funding for many of these organisations and there are not enough reservation areas protected from deforestation.
The global demand for palm oil is responsible for deforestation of orangutan habitat. Palm oil is the main ingredient in 35% of worldwide edible vegetable oil. Palm oil is used as a shortening to make biscuits and breads. It is also used for deep fat frying. Palm oil derivatives can be used in cosmetics because they make products like shampoo creamier. About 130 000 tonnes of palm oil are imported into Australia each year. According to the World Wildlife Fund, palm oil is present in about half the packaged products on Australian supermarket shelves – including everything from bread and biscuits to chips, chocolate and even personal care products such as shampoo. The Australian Food and Grocery Council estimates an even larger use of palm oil – about 80% of all packaged products. Only 14% of packaged items are clearly labelled that they contain palm oil. The Australian food standards legislation allows palm oil to be labelled as “vegetable oil” so not many products have labels that identify palm oil as an ingredient. This is a problem because people don’t know what they’re buying and can’t choose to buy products that don’t contain palm oil.
The Australian government should pass legislation that makes it compulsory for manufacturers to clearly label products containing palm oil so that consumers can choose whether or not to buy the products. In addition, no new palm oil plantations should be permitted in Borneo or Sumatra. Instead, palm oil manufacturers should use the 300-700 million hectares of abandoned land around the world for the creation of palm oil plantations. In addition, if everyone pitched in by not buying products containing palm oil, this would also help the orangutans.
Studies have shown that 90% of orangutan DNA is shared with humans. The orangutans are more like us than we could ever imagine. They should be saved so that the future generations can see what the orangutans are like. By supporting this campaign you will not only help save the orangutans from becoming extinct but also make a difference in the problem of deforestation.