Thousands of critically endangered orangutans are being slaughtered every single year — so we can have cheap vegetable oil.
Creation and expansion of palm oil plantations in Borneo and Sumatra has led to the deaths of 100,000+ orangutans in the region in the last 16 years alone, according to a recent study.
Palm oil is the most commonly used vegetable oil on the planet, and is found in over half of all products at the supermarket, including foods, cosmetics, and cleaning products. Plantations for the product are literally taking over the planet, and now cover over 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface.
The reason this particular oil is so problematic for animals, namely orangutans, is that vast swathes of invaluable rain forest are leveled to make room for the plantations. In Sumatra alone, 11+ million hectares of rain forest have been destroyed for such plantations, and the situation in Borneo isn’t much better.
With their forest homes destroyed, orangutans are left with nowhere to go; starving animals often have no choice but to turn to farmland for sustenance. Farmers don’t tolerate the animals consuming their crops, and the orangutans are shot or killed with machetes on the spot.
To make matters worse, the species is also hunted for food, and mother orangutans are sometimes to killed so their babies can be sold as pets on the black market.
You can help save injured and orphaned orangutans by donating to International Animal Rescue, who has active orangutan rescue teams in Borneo. You can also be vigilant about the products you buy, and avoid purchasing products with palm oil in the ingredients.