THE ORANGUTAN PROJECT: HOW THE PALM OIL IN YOUR FOOD IS KILLING THOUSANDS OF ORANGUTANS
When you buy packaged snacks, soap and shampoo products from the supermarket, try taking a look at its list of ingredients. Chances are you will see palm oil or a similar ingredient in the list. Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is commonly used in today’s processed food products. This is because palm oil has a long shelf life which means the food will be able to preserve its “freshness” for a longer period of time. Aside from foods, palm oil can also be found in some toothpastes, soaps, moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners and other beauty and cosmetic products.
Palm oil is sourced from the oil palm tree, which grows in hot regions that are also rich in rainfall. Over 85% of the palm oil used around the world is supplied from the countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. Although palm oil is considered a necessity in today’s modern world, its production certainly has a dark side. Vast rainforests are destroyed to make way for oil palm tree plantations. This deforestation has a grave impact on the environment as well as the wildlife that inhabits the rainforests.
Orangutans are among the species that are being threatened by the large-scale deforestation activities. More than 5000 of Borneo’s orangutans die each year, while approximately a thousand orangutans from Sumatra are also met by the same fate. Because of this, orangutans from both regions are now considered endangered.
The Orangutan Project, a.k.a. TOP, is a non-profit organisation that aims to protect orangutans and save them from extinction. TOP provides financial and technical support to orangutan conservation and rescue organisations. These conservation efforts include protecting rainforests and protesting against activities that can destroy them, such as illegal logging and wildlife hunting. To date, TOP has been able to raise a total of $6 million and has directed these funds to their partners, which include Friends of the Orangutan (FOTO), Wildlife Protection Units, Sabangau Wildlife Protection and more.
TOP encourages everyone to help the cause by taking part in the protection and care of the rescued orangutans. If you would like to help, some of your options are: donating adoption money for the care of an orangutan of your choice (whose progress will be reported to you twice a year), volunteering at the organisation’s fundraising and promotional activities and writing letters to Indonesian and Malaysian government officials to pressure them into revising the policy on palm oil production.
To learn more about The Orangutan Project, visit their site at http://www.orangutan.org.au/index.htm