The huge demand for palm oil leads to a dramatically decline of this species. Large forest areas in Indonesia and Malaysia are deforested to make way for plantations, leaving the orangutans without a habitat to live in. And if no action is taken, in the next 10 years the species will face a complete extinction.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the Bornean orangutan as critically endangered with the Sumatran orangutan completing the list. These are the last two orangutan species left in the world. In the last 25 years, in Indonesia more than 76 million acres of forest have vanished.
Therefore, the palm oil plantations are the main cause of this mass extinction. The palm oil is used to produce a large array of products as noodles and donuts to toothpaste, shampoo and biodiesel, the Independent reports.
“If the current destruction of the rainforest continues, then I have absolutely no hope that any orangutans will remain in the wild. I would probably say 10 years if we cannot stop the destruction. I think the Sumatran will go before then if they don’t sort out the situation they are in. It’s a real struggle and we are losing the battle,” Alan Knight, chief executive of the charity, International Animal Rescue, said.
Mr. Knight also told the Independent that forest fires occur naturally but some are started illegally in order to open up the land to palm oil plantations. “The fires produce quite a good excuse … all of a sudden this area they wanted to produce palm oil on, it’s useful for nothing, so they end up planting palm oil on it,” he also said.
Organizations as the APE Foundation are desperately trying to stop the orangutans extinction. The foundation’s goals are to protect and restore the wild habitat of this species.
“Over the course of next year our goals are to monitor, protect and restore the habitat of the orangutan and proboscis monkey – this can only be done with the right amount of funding,” Bart Retera, founder of the APE Foundation, told UNILAD.
He added: “One way to protect their habitat is by educating the local people who are mostly not aware of extinction of these species nor the harm that’s done by palm oil plantations. We plan to do this by building an environmental library in the east of Borneo. We can fund the build of this library with as little as 500 people joining the raffle.”
Last year, a video posted by International Animal Rescue on their Facebook page went viral. The “dramatic footage shows the devastating impact deforestation is having on precious orangutan habitat,” the wrote!