Orangutan People of the Forest

Feeling overwhelmed lately? Me too. It’s hard to process the unstoppable avalanche of animals tortured, hunted, murdered. It’s all about the money. Always about the money. Death is not optional. Haven’t they realised by now that they can’t take it with them?


The word orangutan comes from the Malay language. ‘Orang’ means people – ‘hutan’ means forest. Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, orangutans are only found in the rainforests of Borneo & Sumatra. Entirely dependent on what the forest can provide, orangutans prefer to eat fruit. In hard times they rely on sustenance such as bark, leaves & insects.

100 years ago there were 315,000 orangutans in the wild. Today there less than 6,600 in Sumatra and 54,000 in Borneo. Sumatran orangutans may be the first Great Apes to become extinct.

One Green Planet writes “One in 32 of the world’s mammals are found in the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra. The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where the Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Tiger and Sumatran Orangutan are found living in the same area — all of these animals are on the brink of extinction and all because of the palm oil industry and the poaching associated with it. As if the critically endangered status of these animals wasn’t enough to cause uproar, carbon emissions are another reason for outrage”.

“Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for orangutans. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade, and we must do all we can to reverse this devastation.”

Sir David Attenborough


When I first heard of Palm Oil, I didn’t know what it was. It’s everywhere but you would never know it. An insidious, seemingly innocent, extremely vague substitute word can be found in tiny unreadable print – vegetable oil. Palm Oil is in your biscuits, your margarine, bread, cosmetics, shampoo, soap, cleaning products, dog food, pizzas, even in your chocolate.

Over 50% of what an average household consumes each day contains palm oil, including so-called healthy, vegan and organic products.

Palm Oil is harvested from the Oil Palm fruit. Rainforests are cleared to make way for Palm Oil plantations which make up 80% of deforestation worldwide. Clearing is done by two methods – bulldozing or fire.

The Palm Oil industry tells workers and villagers that Orangutans are pests. That wildlife must be ‘disposed’ of, at any cost. Orangutans are run over by logging machinery, beaten to death, buried alive, shot, drowned, or set on fire. Many just starve because there’s nothing left to eat.

Orangutans, People of the Forest - Genocide

Borneo 2010: This is what happened when a female orangutan and her infant wandered into a village in search of food.


According to Greenpeace, Unilever, Cadbury’s, Nestlé, Tesco and palm oil traders Cargill and ADM together represent 40% of the global palm oil trade. Many of America’s biggest brand names continue to use palm oil. Almost none look for an environmentally safe alternative.

Yum! the Brand Owners of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, ignore the issue completely. Avon, Estée Lauder, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s and Burger King are ‘thinking’ about it. Some companies pledge to use sustainable palm oil but don’t. Others talk about weaning themselves off in a decade or two, as is the case with Cadbury who talks about 2030. By which time there will be no animals, no rainforest, no peatland to save. It will all be gone.

Palm Oil Scorecard 2015: Fries, Face Wash, Forests
As Fires Consume Indonesia, Pepsi Profits

In 2004, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed to put Palm Oil on a sustainable path. Many have criticised it for lax membership criteria, and members for Greenwashing – which basically means saying you’re green when you’re not.


is Indonesia itself, along with Malaysia. Southeast Asian nations account for about 85% of the world’s palm oil production. Indonesia is the biggest producer. The Indonesian Palm Oil Association recently withdrew membership from RSPO, citing sustainable palm oil as too costly. Indonesia’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Forestry, who seems to be in the wrong job, said “Our primary customers are not concerned about deforestation”. Even more frightening is the imminent prospect of a South East Asia Palm Oil Cartel with no restrictions, or limits, on any living thing. Why worry about all this namby pamby going-green dribble, forest haze, rainforest destruction and poor animals when you can circumvent the whole thing?


Bad publicity seems to be the only way to go. In 2010 Greenpeace launched the KitKat campaign. It blasted Nestlé on social media. Facebook users change their profile pic to a KitKat Killer logo. Twitter exploded, and YouTube spots like this served to humble a corporate giant. Nestlé finally caved. It pledged to “identify and exclude companies from its supply chain that own or manage high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation”.


These are the remaining lucky ones – orangutans already living in, or rescued and relocated to conservation areas such as Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo.


The Rainforests of Sumatra – decimated to make toilet paper. Critically endangered, 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild. There are thought to be fewer than 400 Sumatran rhinos in existence. They, along with orangutans, elephants and other Sumatran wildlife have all lost their habitat & food source.

Compared to what’s really going on in the world, everything else seems like gobbledygook.

Orangutans, victims of the Palm Oil Industry
Stop Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) destroying Rainforests
Stop Unilever’s dirty industry rainforest destruction
Cadbury must remove deforestation from palm oil supply now
Ask Nutella To Stop Using Palm Oil
Rainforest Rescue

Orangutan Conservation
Save Orangutans and Their Habitat
WWF on Orangutans and Why They Matter
WWF Palm Oil: The Hidden Truth Lurking in Your Home
WWF Endangered Species Threatened by Unsustainable Palm Oil


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Shell says:

    W.O.W. What a post! The extensive research you did is nothing short of impressive.

    The sad pictures of the mother Orangutan roped up made my stomach turn.

    Who knew just about EVERYTHING we all use or consume on a daily basis contains “palm oil”….what a tragedy and all for our own greed, disgusting really.
    It makes me think even less of our human race, what have we all become, a bunch of savages?

    I will sign all of the petitions you listed and stay more aware of the ingredients listed in everyday shopping. Thank you for bringing all of this to light in your own “very informative” way…..you’re the BEST!

    1. joanna says:

      I’ve been following the plight of Orangutans and wildlife in Sumatra and Borneo for some time Shell and I’ve come to one conclusion – the real perpetrators and instigators of this crime are Indonesia and Malaysia, who have systematically laid the premise for the desolation of their countries. It smacks of Africa to me – licences to kill, destroy and plunder

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