Story Details

How Palm Oil is Killing Wildlife

Posted By elmandsparrow on Environmental - The Palm Oil Industry

Palm Oil is an edible oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. Palm Oil is an extremely popular alternative to other oils due to its low price, long shelf life, lack of trans fat, and versatility. 

Palm oil is used in many products including soap, shampoo, cosmetics, chocolate, detergent, bread, and cookies, just to name a few. Currently, Palm oil plantations cover over 40 million acres of the earth’s surface. Oil palm trees grow best in tropical climates with Indonesia and Malaysia producing 85% of the world’s palm oil. 

What’s the issue?

The demand for palm oil continues to grow placing pressure on palm oil producers to increase their production. In order to do this, vast areas of rainforest must be cleared for palm oil tree plantations. These areas are bulldozed and burned to make room for additional plantations. Palm oil production is a leading cause of deforestation. The destruction of these rainforests destroys the habitats of many endangered animal species such as orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos. 

Estimates show that over 50 orangutans are killed each week as a result of deforestation and habitat loss. The loss of their homes leave the orangutans with no food source forcing them to wander to isolated, dangerous areas in search of food and water which then makes them vulnerable to poachers.

Oftentimes, the orangutan will destroy young palm plants in their search for food. As a result, palm oil companies view the orangutan as a pest leading them hire locals to deliberately kill any wild animal, including orangutans, that ruin any trees on the plantations. In addition to the potential for death by paid locals, orangutans are also at risk of being killed by heavy excavation equipment, being captured and tortured, being shot, and even being burned alive. 

About a century ago there were around 230,000 orangutans in the wild. Today, that number is down to 118,000. It is estimated that if deforestation continues at the current rate, the entire population of orangutans in the wild will be extinct in the next 20 years. 

Check out the video below for more information!

How Can You Help?

What can we do? I hate being presented with a problem and then feeling like there’s nothing I can do to contribute to a solution. So, what can we do in our everyday lives to be part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem?

Be mindful when shopping 

The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established in an effort to certify companies and farmers that are working to produce palm oil in a way that does not harm people, animals, or the environment. The RSPO has established specific criteria to certify certain palm oil as sustainable. One of the most important criteria states that no forests supporting significant life and delicate ecosystems can be cleared for palm oil production. Palm oil that is certified sustainable can be used without contributing to the clearing of jungles.  When shopping, look for products with the RSPO logo. You can read more about the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil here. 

You can also download this convenient palm oil shopping guide app to your phone. This app allows you to scan the barcode of any product to check if the product is RSPO certified. This app makes it even easier for you to purchase products that use sustainable palm oil.

Use your voice. 

I think too often we underestimate the power of our voices. Spread the word about how palm oil is impacts animals and the environment. Write to companies and manufacturers and let them know that sustainable palm oil is an issue that you care about. Share with your friends and family and encourage them to change their shopping habits to support sustainable palm oil.

The post How Palm Oil is Killing Wildlife appeared first on Elm + Sparrow.


Submit a Comment

Log in to comment or register here