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Too terrible to ignore - the cruelty that palm oil crops cause orangutans in Indonesia

Geoff at Eco Bushwalks Sydney's picture

If you have a heart please don't ignore this post - we need to let the whole world know what's happening. Boycott palm oil products now. Please donate to the campaign. Because of forest clearing for palm oil, in just the last 20 years 90% of orangutan habitat has already been destroyed. If deforestation continues at this pace, orangutans could be extinct in the wild as early as 2015, and their jungle habitat could be completely gone in 20 years from now. Donate at

A primate genocide and ecological
catastrophe on an industrial scale

is occurring in
some of the most valuable, sensitive and diverse ecological habitats on Earth –
all thanks to a cheap cooking oil we find in our supermarket products

Palm oil is a cheap and common ingredient in many foods and household
products, but as with everything apparently ‘cheap’ – it comes at a terrible
cost. Vast swathes of pristine rainforest are razed to the ground every minute
to clear the way for palm oil plantations in countries such a Borneo, Sumatra,
Indonesia and Malaysia. The scale and speed of this deforesting
operation is staggering.

It tragically appears those people who are managing the palm oil business and
the workers carrying out the forest clearing work do not care if they destroy
the abundant and endangered wildlife that lives in the forests. In fact
deforestation workers are told to dispose of any wildlife that gets in the way –
no matter how inhumanely – which includes running over orangutans with logging

Because of forest clearing for palm oil, in just the
last 20 years 90% of orangutan habitat has already been
It’s a difficult reality to let sink in.

If deforestation continues at this pace, orangutans could be extinct in the
wild as early as 2015, and their jungle habitat could be completely gone in 20
years from now.

If this information makes you angry it should – but there is something we can
do to help stop this disaster. It’s as easy as stop buying products with palm
oil as an ingredient, and help reduce the insane demand for this massively
unsustainable product.

Palm oil is found in loads of everyday products – from breadsticks to anti-dandruff shampoos (you know the one) – so please check the label every time you buy, especially if the products come from the big ‘discount’ supermarkets where supplier corners are cut.

Palm oil is not even healthy food for you – it’s bad for the heart. You could also help greatly by writing to companies and stores who source or sell palm oil and indicate you will boycott their products unless they pledge to eliminate palm oil from their source chain and products.

Finally please share this post widely to help spread the
word about this urgent and terrible ecological disaster across the


This habitat destruction and the stealing of homes from Orangutans is an illustration of human population growth, demand for resources, and corporate greed. Primates and intelligent, gentle and cognitive species, and in actual fact are more highly evolved than humans. They live socially and peacefully within their environmental limits, in their family settings. They do not pollute, destroy, invade or cause wars - unlike homo-sapiens!

The world is in a cruel mess, and it's heart-wrenching to see these innocent victims suffer.

Huge, out-of-control fires rage through the forests of Indonesia – and the source of many is the practice of deliberately burning the land to clear it for palm oil and paper products. These forests are an environmental disaster and is turning habitats and species into cinders. It's a graveyard, a catastrophe. By burning down forests companies can get access to the land and can commence industrial pulp and palm oil plantations. The daily carbon emissions of the Indonesian fires had been equal to the daily emissions of the US, accelerating humanity's progress along the upward line of global emissions by about one to two years. Palm oil is pretty much everywhere. It's the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet and is found in roughly half of all packaged products in supermarkets. Palm oil is pretty much everywhere.

Because palm oil is 'everywhere' in packaged products in supermarkets, it seems that avoiding it requires a systemic approach. The only way I can think of doing this is to stick with fresh food and check what oils I use. Products like soaps, shampoos, dish and clothes-washing detergents also require scrutiny.

I know there are lists of products containing palm oil around, but it would be simpler to list the few products that do not contain palm oil. If anyone wanted to do this, I would be happy to publish it.

The list exists at

Although not exhaustive, it contains a good range of products if you are into processed food, plus some alternative washing products. Please pass it round.

I find these photos extremely distressing as I did the description given to me by an animal welfare organisation representative 2 days ago on the phone. This description was of baby elephants crying for days on end after their mothers have been killed for their tusks. The organisation needed money to pay 24 hour carers in a sanctuary to stay with the animals and care for them for as long as the animals need this. When they are ready they are released into the wild (presumably to be the quarry of poaching tusk seekers) It's a bit like the wild life carers in Australia with years on end of broken sleep as they keep tiny nocturnal marsupials alive and to release them into the wild, only to be killed on the roads or shot later on.
The whole thing, the burgeoning human numbers the ruthless go-getters, the careless, ignorant drivers on country roads makes me feel powerless and despairing.
From the photos of the orang-utans there seems to no mercy for them as their habitat is ripped away. About 20 years ago I visited an orang-utan rehabilitation centre in Borneo. They were raising orphaned animals, many of which had been bought and kept as pets. They had a staged process whereby the animals were moved progressively nearer to a wild forest-y situation. The staff seemed very enlightened and in my naivety I thought that the worst might be over for the orang-utans. Not so, unfortunately.

Yes, the photos are extremely distressing. It makes you feel that our parliaments that make the laws that permit palm oil must be dominated by psychopaths.

I consider growth-dependent capitalism to be at the heart of this. It seems that we are in a system that so prioritises money - where ONLY money (profit to be made or lost in a pareto efficient paradigm) has any validity in seeking damages or rights - that our behaviour is now predominantly responsive to untrammeled market forces. This has made us a terrible species, inflicting a terrible world on itself.

The photo of the orangutan hiding his or her head with his or her hands is so expressive of abject horror that we had to publish the article. This could be a human in a war somewhere else - the Middle East, Ukraine, Congo...

The scale now is so much greater than it ever was in history.

How can we tolerate leaders who will not stop this reality?