In the picture below, we witness two starkly different scenes, both occurring in the same land. In the image on top, two elephants share the day in their natural habitat. In the wild, life is good.

Time is spent foraging and bonding with loved ones. Family is number one for elephants, as they live in matriarchal herds, with grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, nieces, and cousins, all sharing each other’s company for decades. But those days of happiness and becoming rarer and rarer.

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Palm Oil Is Destroying Elephants’ Homes – What You Can Do To Stop ThisBruce Levick/Paul Hilton

Elephants and other animals native to Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem are suffering at the hands of the massive palm oil industry. If you can believe it, it’s currently estimated that around 300 football fields of rainforest are leveled to make way for palm oil plantations every hour.

Palm oil has gained popularity due to the fact that it is cheap, versatile, and, unlike other oils, it is shelf-stable. Because of this, it can be found in about 50 percent of all consumer goods. Unfortunately, as the demand for this cheap oil rises, so too does the rate at which the animals lose their home.

Due to this destruction, elephant families have extreme difficulty finding adequate sources of food and water, rendering it nearly impossible to survive. Without forests to provide them with an ample supply of these necessities, elephants are forced onto palm oil plantations where they are viewed as “pests.” Most often, this means that they will be shot right on the spot, given there are only around 1,300 Sumatran elephants left in the wild, it is critical that we put an end to this completely unnecessary practice. The reality is, without their jungle home, these elephants will never be able to recover and there is a high probably that they will be extinct within our lifetimes.

As daunting as this might sound, the good news is we all have the power to help ensure that this does not become a reality. As consumers, we all have the power to lower the demand for palm oil and consequently aid in the recovery of the Sumatran elephant.

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Lead image source: Bruce Levick