It seems like no matter how many times you tell people facts about the issues facing the planet and animals, these frightening numbers can never have the same impact as a powerful photo. We’ve seen countless examples of how art activism has changed people’s perspectives, from documentaries like “Blackfish” and “Racing Extinction” to Banksy’s iconic scenes. After all, if you want someone to take interest in the plight of animals – which are often the result of human actions and industry – what better way to get them inspired to do something than showing them the places and faces that need protection.
Paul Hilton is a conservation photojournalist who is an expert at doing just this. Hilton has lent his lens and skills to many issues, but the destruction caused by palm oil is one of the most notable issues he covers. Documenting both the destruction of deforestation and the beauty of the animals who call the Leuser ecosystem, an area in Indonesia that is threatened by palm oil, Hilton is making us all rethink how we impact the world around us. Palm oil can be found in over 50 percent of consumer goods – most of which are snacks, meaning the high demand for this commodity is often prioritized over environmental protection.
Recently, Hilton shared an adorable photo of a monkey on his Instagram page – and we just can’t stop staring at this cutie. Despite being unbearably sweet, this photo serves as an important reminder.
This little monkey’s home, the Leuser ecosystem, is an area considered to be one of the most biodiverse ecosystems ever documented. But sadly, this beautiful landscape is in danger because of the palm oil industry. Because of the relentless demand for palm oil, around 300 football fields of rainforest are leveled to make way for palm oil plantations every hour. This industry is also the leading factor in injuring, killing, and displacing wild animals. When animals lose their homes, they are often captured and forced into the cruel exotic pet trade industry.
If we don’t act fast, this little guy may lose his home.
The Leuser ecosystem is the last place on Earth where orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos, and sun bears still roam side by side. Despite this area being protected under Indonesian national law, industrial development for palm oil threatens its critical lowland rainforests and peatlands, as well as the continued well-being of the millions of people who depend on it for their food, water, and livelihoods.
Paul Hilton uses his powerful photography to remind people our actions do impact animals all across the world. Just one look at the traumatized faces of these amazing wild animals is enough to motivate us all to do a little better. The good news is we can all help reduce the destruction of this vital ecosystem by simply choosing to remove palm oil from our diets.
Join us in taking a stand against the palm oil industry and help us keep this cute monkey where he belongs: in his home.
- Share this article and raise awareness.
- Learn how to wean yourself off palm oil.
- Look for palm oil alternatives.
- Tell the brands you buy to commit to sustainable palm oil.
- Support the work of organizations to help spread the word about palm and make a change: Rainforest Action Network, WWF, Say No to Palm Oil, and more!
Image source: Paul Hilton Photo/Instagram