The plight of the orangutan and the south-east Asian forests it inhabits has kept the palm oil industry on the defensive for decades. As the industry now expands at breakneck pace into Africa, conservationists fear slaughtered gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos could become its new symbol unless significant changes are made.
To avoid the destruction caused by the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia, conservationists and industry must work together to protect Africa’s great apes concludes a recent report produced by the Great Apes Survival Partnership at the United Nations Environment Programme.
“Lessons learned from south-east Asia showed that fighting oil palm development doesn’t really work,” says Marc Ancrenaz, an orangutan expert with the NGO Hutan who co-authored the Palm Oil Paradox report. “Oil palm development is going to stay and to expand. Rather than ignoring the consequences […], conservationists should better engage with this industry to try to influence their practices on the ground.”
The stakes are high. The bonobo, for example, is only found in one country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 99% of its range (the area where biologists know or expect a species to live) is suitable for oil palm production.
Read more on the report here