Saturday, 27 March 2010

Give the orangutan a break

Greenpeace are putting pressure on Nestle to stop using palm oil grown on land cleared of rainforest, especially in Indonesia where forest clearances are threatening the orangutan with extinction. Nestle has succeeded in banning Greenpeace's campaign video from Youtube, so the charity is asking us to spread it across the internet despite Nestle. So here it is, but first a warning - it's quite grisly and not to be watched if you're eating:

Nestle is the world's largest food and drink company so their actions have real impact. They use 320,000 tons of palm oil a year, and doubled their use of the product in the past three years. Much of it comes from plantations grown on cleared rainforests, accelerating climate change and driving extinctions. You can find a simple email to sign and send to Nestle here. In this case, I think sending an email is probably worth doing as the campaign is causing yet more bad publicity for Nestle, who could well follow the example set by Unilever and Kraft and cancel contracts with companies involved in forest clearances.

Palm oil production is driving the extinction of orangutans, one of the human species closest living relatives. Over 80% of their habitat has already been destroyed and it is estimated that the ape could go extinct in just ten years. They are particularly at risk because of their low reproductive rate; a female matures at ten to fifteen years old and can then give birth only every six to eight years. EDGE explains their vulnerability: 'Many of the remaining populations, particularly in Sumatra number fewer than 250 individuals. These small, isolated populations do not have the capacity to recover from population declines. A slight rise in female mortality rate of just 1-2% can drive a local population to extinction.'

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