Half of the wild orangutan population has been lost since 1950.

There are only 40,000 orangutans left in the wild

Orangutans spend most of their time in trees.

“Orangutan" comes from the Malay words "orang" (person) and "hutan" (of the forest).

Orangutans exist only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Sumatran orangutans are classified as “critically endangered.”

Orangutans are extremely intelligent, and have been observed to make tools.

6th annual OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop held in Indonesia

Orangutans could be the first great ape to become extinct.

Orangutans spend most of their time in trees.

Sumatran orangutans are classified as “critically endangered.”

Orangutan Commentary: Don’t Buy Halloween Candy That Helps To Kill Orangutans

Sumatra and Borneo are the only places in the world where orangutans live in the wild. Both species are endangered, the Sumatran one critically so. And your Halloween candy purchases could make a difference.  photo courtesy of Lip Kee/Flickr

Sumatra and Borneo are the only places in the world where orangutans live in the wild. Both species are endangered, the Sumatran one critically so. Halloween candy purchases could make a difference. photo courtesy of Lip Kee/Flickr

In which science writer Jason G. Goldman explores the monoculture of palm oil and how the consumer choices we make during the candy buying season can make a real difference to orangutans.

by Jason G. Goldman

Wild orangutans are losing their habitat as the rainforests in which they live are being cleared to produce timber and to expand palm oil plantations. The economics are actually fairly simple: when people buy products that contain palm oil, demand for those products go up. Plantations expand to compensate, which means that rainforest destruction accelerates.

The solution seems pretty simple, right? Stop buying products with palm oil in it. The problem is that even the savviest, most conservation-minded of shoppers can be fooled. That’s because palm oil can be in a product even if the ingredients list doesn’t say so. It can be listed simple as “vegetable oil,” or as something like “sodium lauryl sulfate” or “sodium laureth sulfate.”

The thing is, it isn’t that palm oil itself is bad.  Conservation International points out it’s actually got higher yields than other edible oils, meaning that more oil can be produced in the same plot of land than for other types of plants. While palm oil represents nearly forty percent of the world’s edible oil, it’s grown on just five percent of the land dedicated to oilseed crops. Palm oil production employs more than six million people around the world. Both of these are good things.

The problem is that it’s being farmed in the wrong places. And while orangutans are the most charismatic, heart-wrenching way to promote the problem, deforestation goes much farther than just ape conservation. It is one of the leading drivers of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, for one thing. In addition, rainforests help to regulate weather patterns; they protect local communities from storms and floods and maintain healthy wetlands, which provide water for communities and agricultural efforts downstream. Remove the forest, and the whole ecosystem comes down like a house of cards. And it’s not just the orangutans who suffer, it’s us.

How can you help?

It isn’t easy to simply eschew all products that contain palm oil, partly because it’s estimated to be used in more than half of all processed supermarket items in the US, including cosmetics, and partly because a move towards sustainable palm oil wouldn’t be served by a complete rejection of all products containing it. Instead, you could support those companies that have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Lucky for you, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has created a handy app called the “Palm Oil Shopping Guide” that will help you discern which products are orangutan-friendly and which aren’t.

This excerpt from an article appeared in animals.io9.com and is courtesy of Jason G. Goldman.  It can be read in its entirety here.

posted by: Tom

 

Conservation News: Indonesian Law Bars Palm Oil Companies From Protecting Forests

image courtesy of World Land Trust

image courtesy of World Land Trust

By Rhett Butler for Eco-Business

A law passed by the Indonesian government last month makes it even more difficult for palm oil companies to conserve tracts of wildlife-rich and carbon-dense forests within their concessions, potentially undermining these producers’ commitments to phase deforestation out of their supply chains, warns a new report published by Greenomics, an Indonesian environmental group.

The report focuses on the zero deforestation policy established in 2011 by Golden-Agri Resources (GAR), Indonesia s largest palm oil producer. It looks at how well that commitment is being implemented for a pilot project across eight concessions in West and Central Kalimantan, provinces in Indonesian Borneo.

…The problem is the lands GAR has set aside for conservation are classified as “plantable” by the Indonesian government. Under a September 29, 2014 revision to the Plantation Act, any area under a Hak Guna Usaha/HGU (Right of Cultivation) permit must be fully cleared and converted for its intended purpose within six years of the license being granted.

If the land isn’t cultivated, it can then be seized by the state and turned over to an entity that will convert the area. Any company that fails to abide by the regulation is subject to fines and revocation of its business license.

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of  Ec0-Business and can be read in its entirety here.

posted by: Tom

 

OC/OVAG Partners at Chester Zoo Go Orange For Orangutans

Photo: Our friends at the Chester Zoo in the UK are in the midst of their "Go Orange For Orangutans" in October campaign. The Zoo is one of OC's partners in the annual OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop.  Have a look at: http://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/go-orange-for-orangutans

Our OC/OVAG Veterinary Workshop partners from the Chester Zoo in the UK are in the midst of their “Go Orange For Orangutans” campaign this October.  They’ve got a whole slew of activities, including the staff painting themselves orange in honor of our forest friends and a follow Gavo (he’s our mascot) around the world experience.

Check them out at http://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/go-orange-for-orangutans

 

posted by: Tom

 

Darwin Has A Feast

 

Darwin 2013 - smaller version

Here’s a photo of Darwin from the Orangutan Kutai Project, one of the projects that we help to support at the Orangutan Conservancy.

Orangutan ranging patterns are studied at OKP, and by the looks of things we’d say Darwin ranged himself right into a nice fall feast.

Learn more about OKP and other projects we help to support at http://www.orangutan.com/projects/

posted by: Tom