Orangutans are still disappearing at an alarming rate. A 2019 study has shown that numbers of this critically endangered species in Borneo have decreased by 50% in the last 16 years, with only 70,000 – 100,000 orangutans remaining in the wild. At that rate, in 16 more years they will be gone from the wild forever.
Around 70% of the losses were attributed to hunting (often because they’re “straying” back into palm oil plantations, to protect crops, because people feel threatened, or a smaller portion for bushmeat), with habitat loss from deforestation and logging also threatening their existence.
In the last 30 years orangutans have lost 80% of their habitat. To stop this decline we must protect forests and stop the hunting within them (and we need to talk about this).
What can we do? We are all major threats to orangutans as nearly half the processed food products and cosmetics on our shelves include palm oil – buying less, eating fresh foods where accessible, switching shampoos and soaps, and minimizing other toiletry use (such as makeup) can be really helpful if most of us did it. Importantly, making sure when your country supply chains and transparency laws come up – that this is included. Additionally, where you can’t switch a product, email the company and ask about their palm oil usage. At the very least all companies need to be open about it and responsible for their own supply chains.
Helpful tip: Palm oil hides under SO many names – we need to learn a whole lot of them.
But palm oil certainly isn’t the only problem here. You can also support organizations that work directly on rescuing orangutans and for the in-country work they do such as @bosfoundation @socp.official @theorangutanproject @orangappealuk. It’s also on us as a world to create equal and fairer economic systems and stop relying on the constant exploitation of natural resources.