International Animal Rescue (IAR) shared devastating footage of an orangutan desperately trying to save himself and the last piece of his habitat from destruction. The video shows the animal frantically trying to figure out what to do as a bulldozer invades his home. With no safe place to hide anymore, the orangutan balances himself on a fallen tree trunk and even approaches the bucket of the bulldozer, as if trying to make it retreat from his territory. The poor ape, who shares around 97 percent of the same DNA as a human, stood little chance against this massive piece of machinery.
The orangutan was fortunately rescued and brought to safety by the IAR team, in spite of “all the obstacles thrown at them,” as the organization writes. This, however, was not an isolated case of an orangutan losing his home and finding himself in a similarly dangerous situation.
Deforestation, which is primarily caused by the palm oil industry in this region, has caused the species to lose a huge part of their precious natural habitat and, consequently, caused the orangutan population to plummet. Around 50,000 square miles of tropical forests are cleared each year to produce palm oil, a common ingredient of our snacks and other foods but also household products and cosmetics. As the forests are cleared, many orangutans are forced to scavenge for food on palm plantations – where they are often killed as “pests” or captured and sold into the exotic pet trade.
For this year’s World Environment Day, IAR launched a campaign to rebuild and protect orangutan habitats. “The situation is critical, and we are running out of time,” the organization wrote. You can help by planting a tree with IAR here!
Trying to avoid palm oil as a customer is very challenging due to the huge popularity of the ingredient. Fortunately, there are companies that have already started to embrace the fact that many of us want to avoid palm oil, and hopefully the trend will continue. A recently launched Care2 petition seeks an even more serious step by asking Trader Joe’s, a store that has already made some progressive choices in its business, to stop selling products containing palm oil altogether. To sign the petition, click here.