A CRISIS FOR ORANGUTAN
We are indebted to Orangutan Republik for some of the information below:
As of 2014, it was estimated that there were less than 50,000 orangutans remaining in Borneo and Sumatra. Shockingly, the number was about 60,000 as recent as a decade ago and estimates from 1900 indicate a population of 350,000.
Some experts have given predictions that orangutan could be extinct in the wild in less than 25 years.
Never before has their very existence been threatened so severely. Economic crisis combined with natural disasters and deforestation are pushing one of humankind’s closest cousins towards extinction.
Orangutan have lost well over 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years, and an estimated one-third of the wild population died during the fires of 1997-98. The fires of 2015, influenced largely by the destruction and draining of peat forest for agriculture, was described by leading conservationist Eric Meijaard as "The worst environmental disaster of the 21st Century". It led to the loss of some 2.5million hectares of forest and resulted in the deaths of orangutan and other wildlife but also impacted on the human population.
In 2016 the Bornean orangutan was elevated from 'endangered ' to critically endangered by the IUCN Red List.
As shocking as the rapid loss of rainforests has been over these past few decades, nothing compares to the amount of land being bulldozed for palm oil plantations in the 21st century. Each palm plantation that destroys thousands of hectares in the pursuit of massive profits also takes with it the lives of many orangutan as well as other species of flora and fauna and governmental mandates, meant to protect the land and the animals, disappear faster than do the trees.
In short, if things don’t change soon, if the main threats to orangutan – palm oil, deforestation, poaching and hunting – are not addressed in a serious, urgent and sustained manner, wild orangutan could be gone from this earth.
Western society’s continually increasing demand for palm oil is fuelling the rate of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Logging, forest fires and mining all displace rainforest but the single most important cause of deforestation is the increasing demand for palm oil, acreage.
Currently (2018) 60 million tons of palm oil are produced annually (previous estimates as late as 2013 were predicting that production would increase from 22.5million tonnes to 40 million by 2020!) Some estimates say that if the current trend continues production will quadruple to over 200 million tons by 2050
Malaysia produces 41% and Indonesia 46% of the world’s palm oil.
In 1950 Indonesia had 160 million hectares of rainforest it currently has 48million hectares.
Indonesia deforests 2 million hectares (5.5million acres) of rainforest every year.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that 95% of the increased demand for palm oil was driven by a demand for biofuel.
It is impractical and irresponsible to suggest that we stop using palm oil, the commodity is here to stay but consumer usage is responsible for maintaining the demand.