Stop Palming Off Our Orangutans

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Stop Palming Off Our Orangutans

Mankind is not kind, it is just man and historically speaking, man only knows how to destroy, kill and maim.

I lived in Malaysia as a boy [1968 – 1970]; my Father was stationed in RAAF Butterworth and l schooled in Penang. I have vivid memories as if only yesterday of the vibrancy of living there. I remember very clearly whilst in class if looking out of the windows or whilst simply during lunch times of seeing primates – macaques mostly, but also langurs.

During my travels there as a youngster with my family, l was fortunate to observe Orangutans in their natural wild habitats – a truly beautiful species, with such a magnificent stature and poise. Not many people today can say they have witnessed such wonder in the first hand and not for instance in the likes of a sanctuary – but l can.

I sometimes wonder if people today really understand the word extinction when it is used or if they think it is just another word that is out there for a fashion fad or trend? I know people who should be intelligent enough to comprehend the phrase ‘global warming’ and yet insist that doesn’t exist and it is just another whimsical theory put out there by tree hugging do gooders or conspiracist political usurpers!

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Sadly, people believe what they wish to believe, it has always been that simple – whether this is just fear or downright ignorance remains to be seen.

The simple facts are that the unsustainable palm oil industry is greatly reducing the numbers of Orangutans and leading the species into extinction or in even simpler terms is killing them off!

When hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest are removed the effect is catastrophic! This further threatens the planet’s biodiversity, the ecosystems and of course decimates species habitats. The orangutan is one such species that suffers terribly, and although there are many mostly it is this species that people recognise more.

This species is closely related to humans – sharing 97% of common DNA and yet despite this – still industrial demands insist on destroying them. Nearly 30 years ago, globally there was close to 320,000 of this beautiful species and here we are as of today and less than 50,000 exist in the wild.

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It would be all too easy to simply blame the palm oil industry for the demise however; we cannot deny that it is just as responsible for a very high stake claim against them for the practices they continually carry out for the sake of a profit. Logging, fires, poaching and hunting and of course as discussed palm oil plantations all take their tolls upon the species.

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With the removal of the forests, this releases carbon into the air which increases global warming. The top soils now laid bare by the stripping of the trees, soon become washed away in the rains, which then has the chain reaction of extracting the nutrients out of the soil that farmers need to produce high yield crops, and so their ability to carry this out soon vanishes!  With the soil so weak, fertilisers have to be used which then just add even more damage to a seriously damaged environment!

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Of course ultimately we come back to the whys of this whole situation? Well obviously it’s to do with demand, supply and greed! Society demands the products, the manufacturers react, and the end result is greed. But that greed in truth is from everyone, no one group is exempt from the profit margins.

Is there no way forwards to this plight?

Of course, the demand for palm oil is massively huge and is not going to get any smaller anytime soon, so what needs to be done which then ensures that the responsibility is not taken lightly is the introduction and full acceptance of ‘sustainable’ agricultural practices! Sustainable farming methods are the only way to easily maintain economic growth and performance, but more importantly they do not further damage the environment nor kill off innocent species who have more rights to be on the land than the profit farmers.

If we as a ‘mankind’ wish to see the numbers of the Orangutans improve, then we need to continually encourage the local communities to introduce and promote the benefits of sustainable palm oil farming. Equally consumers need to be more aware of ensuring that when they buy off the counter they look out for sustainable palm oil products.

If there was no demand for palm oil, there would be no habitat destruction, needed for plantations, and if there were no plantations the fates of many species currently destined for extinction could be avoided.

Species Threatened by Unsustainable Palm Oil Productions

Orangutans are not the only species facing total decimation and extinction, here are some others:

Sumatran and Bornean Orangutan [Critically Endangered]

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Sumatran Elephant [Endangered]

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Bornean Pygmy Elephant [Endangered]

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Sumatran Rhino [Critically Endangered]

Image courtesy WWF

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Sumatran Tiger [Critically Endangered]

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Malayan Sunbear [Vulnerable]

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If we want and wish for our children of today to see these beautiful species tomorrow, we need to start taking action because if we don’t, then the only way these animals will be seen ‘naturally’ is digitally. Not the greatest legacy to leave for the future is it?

Images and designs Courtesy Pixabay, WWF

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