Conservationist seek to end destruction of the orangutan habitat
The world on Saturday, August 19, 2017 observed the International Orangutan Day with events organised globally to raise awareness about the plight of the now critically endangered primate
In a campaign focused on a major orangutan stronghold in Indonesia, the not-for-profit group claims that millions of acres of rainforest in the Southeast Asian nation are destroyed each year for the production of Conflict Palm Oil.
“Snack food giant PepsiCo uses an immense amount of Conflict Palm Oil and is driving this destruction. As more and more of its forest habitat are lost, the orangutan is being driven closer to extinction in the wild,” RAN insists, saying that stopping the destruction caused by PepsiCo will go a long in saving the orangutan.
The group adds: “We have convinced more than a dozen of the world’s biggest snack food corporations to adopt responsible palm oil sourcing policies that ensure the palm oil they use is not destroying the orangutan’s home. Today, we demand that PepsiCo cleans up its supply chain by putting an end to the use of Conflict Palm Oil in its products. When orangutans are gone, they’re gone forever. We must fight for the orangutan!”
In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the classification of the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) from endangered to critically endangered, citing the main causes of its population decline as habitat loss and fragmentation, primarily for logging and oil palm plantations, along with illegal hunting and fires.
The Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) is also listed as critically endangered. There are now only about 14,600 left in the wild.
These are estimated to be between 55,000 and 62,000 Bornean orangutans living in the wild, split into three distinct subspecies.
The IUCN says the population trend is a decrease for both species.
Orangutans’ solitary nature and slow reproductive rates leave them particularly vulnerable when there is forest loss. The rate of population decline is such that it is difficult for the populations to recover because of the lengthy birth intervals.
The executive director of the UK-based charity, the Orangutan Land Trust (OLT), Michelle Desilets, says she would prefer not to get caught up trying to give current population figures.
The OLT spearheads the PONGO (Palm Oil and NGO) Alliance, which was formed in 2015 and aims to protect orangutan habitat in an oil palm landscape.
Desilets points out that 10,000 orangutans are living in areas that have been identified for industrial oil palm cultivation in Borneo. “There is an urgent need for collaborative innovation to protect these animals in mixed-use landscapes.”
There is a genuine commitment from major growers in the PONGO Alliance, Desilets says. “And the alliance has brought together experts and orangutan conservation organizations, who are developing new strategies for the protection of orangutans in legally unprotected areas. All this is quite a positive shift.”
Source: Environ News