Orangutans are some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth. Their expressive faces, their adorable antics, and their similarity to humans is simply awe-inspiring. Just like humans, they share deep bonds with their kin, and for the most part, orangutan families stay together for their entire lives. Not to mention, orangutans are exceptionally smart. If instructed, they can learn to communicate with sign language, and they have even been shown to fashion tools from the materials available to them in nature.
Sadly, due to human action, orangutans may very well become extinct within our lifetime. Some orangutans are stolen from their natural habitat and sold in the illegal wildlife trade as exotic pets, but the biggest threat to the orangutan species is most definitely the palm oil industry. Palm oil is a popular commodity found in around 50 percent of consumer products. In the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, native habitats to orangutans, nearly 300 football fields of forest are cut down every hour to make way for palm plantations. Due to this deforestation, orangutans, who spend their time in the high trees of the rainforest, lose their lives. In the past decade alone, 20,000 orangutans have been killed at the hand of the palm industry.
Thankfully, every year we are seeing more action being taken to save this incredible species. Organizations, like International Animal Rescue (IAR), spend their days saving orangutans left in the wake of deforestation, who have lost their families, or have been kept as illegal pets. Additionally, they raise awareness about the impact consumers have through their purchases and palm oil alternatives that can help save orangutans.
These two baby orangutans rescued by IAR give us hope. The joy on the faces of these sweet babies prove that there is a chance at a happy life, even after destruction. And maybe, just maybe, if we each do our part, we can continue to see this beautiful species for many years to come.
While it can seem almost impossible that our actions can have an impact on animals across the globe, just one look at the decimated forests of Sumatra and Borneo says otherwise. Just like our food choices affect the planet, so do our shopping choices. Because of this, it has become clear that the most profound action you can take to help orangutans is to cut palm oil out of your life as much as possible. For some guidance on how to do that, check out these resources:
- Put Down the Palm Oil: Planet-Friendly Alternatives for Your Home
- How to Wean Yourself off Palm Oil
- Did You Know? These 8 Vegan Foods Contain Palm Oil
Image source: International Animal Rescue/Instagram