Great apes shot and burnt alive by palm oil farmers
Pictures: ANDREW STENNING
30, says: “It is a big industry for us here and has helped our economy. It has given many people money.
“But it is bad for the wildlife. When I was 10 I would see about four times the number of orangutans I do now.”
Charities say it is understandable locals welcome this economic boost, as 40 years ago some faced starvation.
Marc Ancrenaz, from orangutan conservation programme Hutan, said: “The poverty level was 30 to 40% and now it is below 5%. People are not starving any more.”
But the orangutans are, and must venture out of ever-diminishing pockets of rainforest to forage.
Orangutan Land Trust conservationist Lone Droscher-Nielsen, who has spent 20 years fighting to save CONSERVATIONIST LONE ON LOSS OF APE HABITATS their area, even though there’s no food or trees left. “If they do go to other areas, they face competition and get pushed back out into the open areas again.” Orangutan Information Centre’s Ricko Jaya, a vet in Sumatra, says half of all orangutans they rescue have been shot with an air rifle. “I’ve lost count how many pellets we find in their bodies.” Panut Hadisiswoyo, a wildlife rescuer, says orangutans are “one step from extinction”.
But there is hope, too, as orphaned RESCUED
Borneo’s great apes, said she has found them on the ground starving to death.
“They cut the forest down and the orangutans are left in the open,” she said. “They are so confused because their home has suddenly vanished. I’ve seen females who don’t want to leave orangutans are released back into the wild. One male called Tiger, who had his first chance of freedom scuppered after trying to steal a motorbike from a plantation, was released last month.
And some palm oil plantations have joined the fight to protect the apes.
Dr Simon Lord, who works for Sime Darby Plantation in Borneo, is a founding member of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. His company supplies Nestle, Unilever, Kelloggs and their oil goes into 90% of biscuits in the UK, including McVities.
He said: “We don’t want to go down in history as the company that trashes forests and kills orangutans. It’s about common decency and ethics. It is not an evil crop but it can be grown by evil people. It’s these people who taint the The orangutan and little girl in Iceland’s advert rest of us who are trying to get it right.”
Michelle Desilets, from Orangutan’s Land Trust, said: “Iceland got it wrong! It’s not about cutting out palm oil, it’s about ensuring your supply chain is free from deforestation.
“It’s true palm oil represents a catastrophic threat to the orangutan but please don’t stop using it. The boycott is not an effective struggle for change.”
Iceland boss Richard Walker said: “The current level of palm oil consumption means demand is too great for it to be mass produced in a truly sustainable manner. For that reason, we have committed to remove palm oil from all own label food.”
Females don’t want to leave an area even if there are no trees or food
SECOND CHANCE Orangutan mum & baby at centre VIRAL
Baby aged 6 months among trees