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

So why is there so much ruthless destruction for this oil? For one, 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; as the demand for this cheap oil rises, so does the rate at which the animals lose their home.

The critically endangered Sumatran elephant is thus losing its home little by little. Elephant families are having extreme difficulty finding adequate sources of food and water, rendering it nearly impossible to survive.

And elephants aren’t the only ones facing this crisis: scientists estimate that orangutans they could become extinct from the wild in the next 20 years. Without the rainforest, orangutans are forced onto palm oil plantations where they are viewed as “pests” and either shot point blank, or captured and sold into the illegal wildlife trade.

Luckily, major celebrities like Leo DiCaprio are fighting against this shameful reality. On Facebook, Leo posted a photo of himself hanging out with these amazing elephants, and a dedicated team, working to save these incredible animals. In this powerful post, he wrote, “The lowland rainforests of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem are considered the world’s best remaining habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant. In these forests, ancient elephant migratory paths are still used by some of the last wild herds of Sumatran elephants. But the expansion of ‪#‎PalmOil‬ plantations is fragmenting the forest and cutting off key elephant migratory corridors, making it more difficult for elephant families to find adequate sources of food and water.”

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DiCaprio also recently announced that his foundation will be donating $15 million in grants towards environmental protection. Out of that amount, funding will be explicitly allocated to a project that will ensure the protection of 6.5 million acres of Sumatran rainforests that have been ravaged by the palm oil industry.

It’s amazing to see a celebrity with as much star power as Leo, using his influence for good! If you’d like to support Forest Nature and Environment Aceh as they fight to protect the Leuser Ecosystem, visit this link!

How Else Can You Help?

  • Learn how to cut palm oil out of your life by clicking here.

  • Support organizations working on the ground to protect the orangutan’s native environment.

  • Check out the work of these organizations that specialize in the rescue and rehabilitation of orangutans.

  • Share this article and raise awareness!

Featured Image Source: Leonardo DiCaprio/Facebook