Orangutan rescue: Dramatic images of seven Sumatran apes saved as bulldozers move in to clear their home for an oil plantation
- Company responsible for protecting them, tear down their home
- The expansion of oil palm plantations is a leading threat to orangutans
- At risk of starvation or being killed if they return in search of food
Their home has been destroyed by bulldozers to make way for an oil palm plantation.
Seven Sumatran orangutans, including three mother and baby pairs, were saved from the tiny patch of forest that was being bulldozed by a company which is a member of an industry group responsible for protecting their habitat.
They were rescued from the PT Sisirau plantation in Aceh Tamiang, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia and have now been safely released back to the Gunung Leuser National Park.
The plantation is managed by a company called PT. Sisirau.
The company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry group which regulates certified sustainable palm oil according to a set of principles developed by palm oil companies, traders, buyers, retailers, banks and social and environmental organisations, designed to limit negative environmental and social impacts of the industry.
These dramatic images have been released as evidence in time for the RSPO annual three-day conference, which begins on Tuesday in Singapore.
Palm oil is an ingredient found in up to half of processed foods, and is also increasingly being used as a biofuel in petrol tanks and power stations.
The expansion of oil palm plantations into high conservation value forests is recognised as a leading threat to critically endangered species including orangutans, elephants and tigers.
Helen Buckland, Director of Sumatran Orangutan Society, said: “We have today lodged a formal complaint with the RSPO about the actions of this member company.
‘The company knows that there are orangutans on their land, the estate manager has even joined the team on rescues, yet the bulldozers continue to tear down the last remaining trees.
‘PT Sisirau has been a member of the RSPO since 2008, but has not been certified as producing sustainable palm oil – and we hope that the evidence released today ensures that they never will be.
‘The idea that this company could ever be allowed to be certified as producing ‘sustainable’ palm oil in the future is ludicrous. The RSPO’s credibility is really on the line here.’
Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founder and Director of the Orangutan Information Centre said: “As more and more forest is replaced by oil palm plantations, more orangutans become isolated in farmlands.
‘They are at serious risk of starvation or being killed if they wander into plantations in search of food.
Yet even palm oil companies which are supposed to be committed to sustainable production continue to destroy what little habitat remains.’
THE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SUMATRAN ORANGUTAN
The Sumatran orangutan has been classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The latest data estimates that there are now only around 6,600 remaining in the wild, a drastic drop from the estimated 85,000 in 1900.
Orangutans were historically found in forests across Sumatra but are now restricted to just two provinces: North Sumatra and Aceh.
There are less than 864,000 hectares of orangutan habitat left on the island. Experts suggest that they could be the first Great Ape species to become extinct in the wild.
The greatest threats to their survival are habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Sumatra lost 48% of its forests in the 20 years prior to 2007.
Large areas of orangutan habitat have been lost or degraded due to the spread of oil palm plantations into their forest homes.
Human-orangutan conflict is now frequent in agricultural areas, as orangutans are forced out of degraded forest fragments in search of enough food for survival.
For farmers, raided or damaged crops means that this critically endangered species is often considered to be an agricultural pest and killed.
Via The Daily Mail