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Monday, January 12, 2004

Margarine + cosmetics ingredient threatens the future of the Orangutans
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, our close primate relatives, the Orang-utans may go extinct in the wild within the next 20 years...

The loss of the Orangutans' rainforest habitat, which is often converted into oil palm plantations, is one of the greatest threats to the survival of this species, and is ironically being encouraged by consumers in Europe and the US...

This is because in the developed world, palm oil is used as an ingredient in cooking oil, soap, cosmetics + margarine and future demand for this oil is expected to grow considerably, with Indonesian government policies tending to support expansion of this cash-crop into areas of high conservation value. These areas are cleared by large-scale, difficult to control fires and generally result in monocultures with significantly reduced biodiversity.

The hunting of these long-lived, slow reproducing animals for the pet + bushmeat trades also means that the 20,000 - 30,000 individuals left in the wild are dying out in Borneo + Sumatra faster than they can be protected or replaced...

You can listen to a talk by Dr. Ashley Leiman of the Orangutan Foundation at the Oxford Earth Summit here

Key quotes from Ashley's April 2002 talk include:

"In 1900 there were approximately 315,000 orangutan, today it is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 survive in the wild."

"Indonesia occupies 1.3% of the world's land area yet it possesses 10% of the world's flowering plants, 12% of all mammal species, 17% of all reptiles and amphibian species and 17% of all bird species."

"Indonesia has some of the best legislation, it is all there, it's just not enforced."