BOR­NEO

The shock­ing, real cost of a weekly su­per­mar­ket shop

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY LUCY THORN­TON in Bor­neo

The heartbreaking Ice­land ad­vert call­ing for a boy­cott of palm oil has been watched more than 30 mil­lion times on­line af­ter be­ing banned from our TV screens.

The tear­jerker fea­tures a car­toon orang­utan talk­ing to a lit­tle girl in her bed­room about her rain­for­est home be­ing de­stroyed by palm oil plan­ta­tions.

The lit­tle ape tells her: “There’s a hu­man in my for­est and I don’t know what to do. He took away my mother, I’m scared he’ll take me too.”

But when the Mirror trav­elled into the re­mote forests of Bor­neo we found the re­al­ity was even worse than the Christ­mas ad­vert claims.

We were told of the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered an­i­mals be­ing shot with sharp­ened air ri­fle pel­lets or doused in petrol and burned alive by farm­ers who con­sider them pests be­cause they nest in their trees.

Lo­cals have even been paid £10 for each great ape they kill.

No­to­ri­ously, one orang­utan was used as a pros­ti­tute in a vil­lage brothel.

At Sepi­lok Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Bor­neo, 40 or­phaned orangutans are be­ing cared for.

There we found, just like us, they hate the rain. One baby orang­utan throws a tantrum as the heav­ens open, thump­ing his fists on the ground.

An­other takes a more prac­ti­cal ap­proach and grabs banana leaves to fash­ion a makeshift um­brella. But soak­ing-wet Wu­lan has an even bet­ter idea. Stick­ing out a long arm, she swipes a tourist’s pur­ple plas­tic pon­cho and dashes off to try it on.

It’s not much by way of pay­back, though. We hu­mans have stolen her home.

Crit­i­cally-en­dan­gered orangutans only ex­ist in the rain­forests on the Malaysian and In­done­sian is­lands of

Bor­neo and Su­ma­tra and there are an es­ti­mated 104,000 left.

Num­bers have plum­meted be­cause of hunt­ing and de­for­esta­tion caused by the relentless march of the palm oil in­dus­try and in­ten­sive log­ging.

As we drive 70 miles from the air­port to the re­serve in Sukau there are palm trees as far as the eye can see.

Vol­un­teer Lynn Ashcroft, 53, from Brighton, who has just spent three weeks re­plant­ing the for­est canopy with Brunei Malaysia PALM oil is found in half of all su­per­mar­ket prod­ucts, from pizza and mar­garine to mois­turiser and makeup.

More than 3.5 mil­lion hectares of In­done­sian and Malaysian for­est have been de­stroyed in the past 20 years.

In that time, al­most 80% of orangutans’ habi­tat has dis­ap­peared, mean­ing more than 6,000 crea­tures die each year be­cause of un­sus­tain­able palm oil pro­duc­tion.

Some of the world’s big­gest brands are among the worst of­fend­ers.

How­ever, the hys­te­ria fails to ac­count for sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion used by com­pa­nies such as Unilever.

When pro­duced sus­tain­ably, palm oil can be eco-friendly as it takes up less space than other al­ter­na­tives. On the same area of land,it pro­duces twice as much oil as co­conut and more than 30 times as much as maize.

Char­i­ties say a boy­cott of palm oil would in­crease de­mand for less ef­fi­cient oils and that in­stead we should work to­wards sus­tain­able

pro­duc­tion in the fu­ture.

her daugh­ter, summed it up. “As we flew over Bor­neo you see it is all green and you think that’s the jun­gle,” she said. “But then you see they are palm oil plan­ta­tions. They’ve taken the whole for­est.” We trav­elled along the Kin­abatan­gan river and saw an ele­phant swim­ming across in front of us. Min­utes later it is clear why.

As our boat turns a bend we come across a huge palm plan­ta­tion sur­rounded by an elec­tric fence to keep out the ele­phants. Our boat­man Wan, In­done­sia 200 Miles For­mer for­est in front of Bor­neo palm grove Mirror’s Lucy at orang sanc­tu­ary

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