Indonesian journalists murdered by palm oil corporation

This June 2018 video says about itself:

Palm oil has become one of the world’s most ubiquitous resources – it’s in our food, fuel, and cosmetics to name but a few. Yet the palm oil industry is responsible for committing environmental destruction on a massive scale in the tropical paradises of Indonesia, at the expense of local populations and wildlife. Can the developed world shake its addiction to palm oil?

By Owen Howell:

Killing of two Indonesian journalists points to criminality in palm oil industry

27 December 2019

The dead bodies of two Indonesian activists were discovered in late October on a palm plantation in the province of North Sumatra. According to police, the two men were allegedly murdered by a group of hired killers carrying out the orders of a local palm oil company owner.

Within a week of the discovery, police had arrested five suspects, including the company owner, Kompas reported. They are currently being detained at police headquarters in the provincial capital Medan, charged with murder. Three other suspects are still at large.

The two victims, Maraden Sianipar, 55, and Martua Siregar, 42, both worked as journalists for an online news portal, Pindo Merdeka, before going freelance in 2017. They then became renowned throughout the area for their activism in environmental issues and land disputes, in which they advocated for struggling peasants in their conflicts with company officials.

According to Tribun Medan, Wibharry Padmoasmolo, the owner of palm oil company KSU Amelia, allegedly commissioned the killings by hiring seven men—company employees and security guards—and paying four of them nearly $US3,000. At a press conference, police commissioner Andi Rian said Wibharry told Janti Hutahaean, the leader of the seven hired murderers: “Yes, just brush them off if there’s still someone annoying us. If you need to, finish them off.”

KSU Amelia claimed ownership of a vast plot of forest area and repeatedly expelled outraged farmers from the property, who felt the company had unlawfully taken control of their land. Last year the company’s concession was sealed off by government authorities after it cleared 750 hectares of rainforest to plant oil palms. It had been engaged in a fierce dispute with the impoverished farmers since 2015, after the firm’s expansion onto forested land was ruled to be illegal.

Violent conflicts were common between the plantation’s guards and local people trying to access the land. In the end, the residents called upon environmental groups for assistance. At this point Maraden and Martua stepped in to act as mediators and attempt to resolve the dispute.

As the Tribun reported, the incident occurred on the afternoon of October 29 when Maraden and Martua visited the plantation to speak with company officials and discuss a solution. At the front gate they were allegedly met by seven men armed with bladed weapons called kelewangs. The hired men reportedly tortured the two activists to death, stabbing them multiple times.

Pos Metro Medan wrote that their bodies were found over the following two days on the KSU Amelia plantation in Labuhan Batu Regency, North Sumatra. Maraden’s body lay at the bottom of a ditch with his left arm hacked off and deep gashes around his head. Martua was found in the bushes near a warehouse, covered with stab wounds to his abdomen, back, and other body parts.

North Sumatra police chief Agus Andrianto related to the press that Wibharry denied owning the company when under police questioning, saying his father-in-law was one of the owners.

According to Tempo, police also explained that Joshua Situmorang, another top official at KSU Amelia, had once offered a wage of $US1,000 to a security guard to kill Ranji Siallagan, the head of an association of palm smallholders, in an effort to silence opposition from local farmers to the company. Ranji survived the attack.

Less than a month before Maraden and Martua were murdered, an environmental activist named Golfrid Siregar was found dead in suspicious circumstances. Golfrid was the attorney of the North Sumatran chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), the nation’s largest environmental group. He was involved in exposing illegal logging practices and provided legal guidance for local communities ensnared in conflicts with big companies.

Golfrid was found lying unconscious beside a motorcycle on a traffic overpass in Medan early on October 3 and died three days later. At the time police asserted that Golfrid died in a drink-driving accident. His work colleagues and relatives, however, according to an article by Mongabay, rejected this claim and argued instead that the evidence, including severe head injuries, indicated he was killed elsewhere and his body was dumped to conceal the crime.

The deaths of these activists have heightened concerns over the operations of palm oil companies among observers in Indonesia and internationally. Various civil society groups have noted that intimidation against those who investigate human rights abuses in the palm oil business is growing more violent.

Greenpeace campaigner Annisa Rahmawati, when asked about the two activists, told Reuters that the running of palm oil firms “was, and is, built upon the smeared blood and suffering of residents.”

Plantation companies now employ soldiers and police as guards to stave off the infuriated rural masses from occupying their newly-acquired properties. Over the past decade certain firms in Sumatra and Borneo, where exploitative conditions are at their worst, have begun to hire the notorious paramilitary unit Brimob as a security force.

The highly lucrative international trade of palm oil, regarded as “the poor man’s oil”, is founded on the exploitation of cheap labour. Most plantation workers across Indonesia are casual daily labourers with no health insurance. Amnesty International reported in 2016 that companies used forced labour and child labour, and allowed dangerous working practices. The illegal burning of forests, moreover, which is responsible for the annual haze that blankets Southeast Asia, is a cheap method to clear land, with no consideration for the extreme ecological damage inflicted.

In a 2015 paper, the Centre for International Forestry Research documented the political corruption which propels the industry, concluding there was a link between land clearing and local elections. Regional elections regularly involve “land transactions”, in which prospective regional leaders give residents access to land to attract their sympathies. Businessmen provide financial assistance to prospective regional heads, in return obtaining extra-judicial land permits when the candidate is elected.

The sudden rise in the practice of land grabbing during the Yudhoyono administration of 2004-2014 was the product of new government regulations making it easier for private companies to gain permits for land clearing. Over the past five years, the Widodo administration has likewise continued to make life easy for palm oil companies, turning a blind eye to the deep-rooted corruption and criminality that permeates the industry.

British brands still profiteering from deforestation despite promises on palm oil: here.

Monkeys, rats, palm oil plants in Malaysia

This 12 October 2019 video from Indonesia says about itself:

We couldn’t have positioned our camera trap better to catch this magnificent view of a pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) foraging in the lowland forests of Sumatra.

Pig-tailed macaques are used by farmers in Thailand to retrieve fruits from the tops of tall palm trees on coconut plantations. These enslaved macaques are taken from the wild as infants and trained to respond to verbal commands, how to choose coconuts in different phases of ripeness, and how to remove a coconut from the stem (Sponsel et al. 2002). An efficient macaque can harvest between 500 and 1000 coconuts per day from a coconut palm plantation. For this slave labor, the macaques receive food rewards for performing the tasks properly.

Learn more about our work to build a corridor to ensure a healthy future in the wild for pig-tailed macaques and other species threatened with habitat destruction.

From ScienceDaily:

How rat-eating monkeys help keep palm oil plants alive

October 21, 2019

Found as an ingredient in many processed and packaged foods, palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on October 21 have discovered an unlikely ally for palm oil production: pig-tailed macaques.

Macaques have had a reputation as crop raiders, but the new study shows they in fact cause only relatively minor losses in palm oil yield. And, more importantly, they actively search for rats, the major oil palm pest.

“By uncovering cavities in oil palm trunks where rats seek shelter during the day, one group of pig-tailed macaques can catch more than 3,000 rats per year,” said leading author Anna Holzner of the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

As a result, they say macaque visitors can reduce rat numbers by more than 75 percent, suggesting they could even replace chemicals used to kill rodents.

Nadine Ruppert, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and her team have been studying the ecology and behavior of Southern pig-tailed macaques since 2013. They soon realized that wild macaques were spending a good deal of time on oil palm plantations, which are found in a large part of macaques’ home range. They were curious to learn more about the macaques’ activities while on those plantations.

Their studies showed that macaques’ plantation diet included plenty of oil palm fruits. Although a group of macaques ate more than 12 tons of oil palm fruits per year, that’s just 0.56% percent of the overall oil palm production in the macaques’ home range. And, they make up for it by eating lots of rats. That’s key because rats cause losses of about 10 percent of production; hence, they do far more crop damage than macaques.

“I was stunned when I first observed that macaques feed on rats in plantations,” said Ruppert, the corresponding author. “I did not expect them to hunt these relatively large rodents or that they would even eat so much meat. They are widely known to be frugivorous primates who only occasionally feast on small birds or lizards.”

She was immediately intrigued by their potential role in pest control. In fact, her team reports that regular visits of pig-tailed macaques in Malaysia’s oil palm plantations could reduce crop damage from 10% to less than 3%, corresponding to a yield increase equal to crops grown over approximately 406,000 hectares (or US$ 650,000 per year).

The findings should come as good news for oil palm producers and for macaques. “We expect that our results will encourage both private and public plantation owners to consider the protection of these primates and their natural forest habitat in and around existing and newly established oil palm plantations,” said Anja Widdig, the senior author affiliated with the University of Leipzig, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig.

“In collaboration with local palm oil companies and NGOs, we will work towards the realization of a plantation design that maintains viable macaque populations and higher levels of biodiversity via wildlife corridors while increasing the plantations’ productivity and sustainability by effective and environmentally friendly pest control. This ultimately can lead to a win-win situation for both biodiversity and the oil palm industry.”

Big corporations destroying Indonesian rainforests

This video says about itself:

Barbie destroys Indonesian Rainforests!! (Ken finds out) -Greenpeace

6 July 2011

Mattel and other companies are destroying our rainforests to create a cheaper toy packaging, therefore endangering the Sumatran tiger and orangutans on the verge of extintion, there are only about 2000 Sumatran tigers or less in the world. Join Greenpeace and take action to stopping this problem! Remember that the world is not ANYONE’S to destroy!!

Take action here.

By Greenpeace International, 19 September 2018:

World’s biggest brands still linked to rainforest destruction in Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia – Palm oil suppliers to the world’s largest brands, including Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez, have destroyed an area of rainforest almost twice the size of Singapore in less than three years, according to a new investigation by Greenpeace International.[1]

Greenpeace International assessed deforestation by 25 major palm oil producers and found that:

The investigation exposes the total failure of Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, to break its links to rainforest destruction. In 2013, Greenpeace International revealed that Wilmar and its suppliers were responsible for deforestation, illegal clearance, fires on peatland and extensive clearance of tiger habitat. Later that year, Wilmar announced a groundbreaking ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ policy. Yet Greenpeace’s analysis found that Wilmar still gets its palm oil from groups that are destroying rainforests and stealing land from local communities.

“Palm oil can be produced without destroying rainforests. But our investigation shows that the palm oil Wilmar trades is still utterly contaminated with rainforest destruction. Household brands like Unilever, Nestlé, Colgate-Palmolive and Mondelez promised their customers they’d only use clean palm oil but they haven’t kept that promise. Brands must fix this problem once and for all by cutting Wilmar off until it can prove its palm oil is clean”, said Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace’s global Indonesia forests campaign.

In addition to deforestation, the 25 individual cases in the report include evidence of exploitation and social conflicts, illegal deforestation, development without permits, plantation development in areas zoned for protection and forest fires linked to land clearance. It is also the most comprehensive assessment of deforestation in Papua, Indonesia.

“Papua is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and its pristine forests had until recently been spared the destruction happening elsewhere in Indonesia. But now the palm oil industry is moving in and clearing forest at an alarming rate. If we don’t stop them then Papua’s beautiful forests will be destroyed for palm oil just like Sumatra and Kalimantan,” said Taufik.

Palm oil impacts on environment, people and climate:

Photos and video are available here


[1] Final Countdown: Now or never to reform the palm oil industry 

[2] Figures cover loss of natural forest. Sources:

1990–2012: MoEF (2016b) Table Annex 5.1, pp90–1 – gross deforestation 21,339,301ha

2012–2013: MoEF (2014) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 953,977ha

2013–2014: MoEF (2015) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 567,997ha

2014–2015: MoEF (2016a) Lampiran 1, Tabel 1.1 – gross deforestation 1,223,553ha


Sol Gosetti, International Communications Coordinator, Indonesia Forest campaign,, +44 (0) 7380845754

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours),

Large-scale agriculture, primarily for growing oil palms, remains a major cause of deforestation in Indonesia but its impact has diminished in recent years as other natural and human causes emerge, a new study finds. These causes, which vary by location and over time, include the conversion of forests to grasslands by El Niño-fueled wildfires; small-scale farming; and mining. Policymakers and conservationists need to address these varied causes when devising new programs and practices: here.

Dutch banks help palm oil destruction

This 2017 Dutch Friends of Earth film is about a monkey in a rain forest; and how a palm oil corporation destroys its life.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw, 2 July 2018:

Dutch banks finance abuses in the palm oil sector

ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING are structurally involved in land grabbing, illegal deforestation and forced labour in the palm oil sector, reports Dutch Friends of the Earth.

Over the past eight years, the banks have been linked to 118 cases of wrongdoing on palm oil plantations of fourteen producers. With their money, tropical rainforest is cut down and land is stolen from local communities. That is in a black book that the environmental organization is publishing today.

With the report ‘Draw the Line’, about the role of Dutch banks in this risk sector, Friends of the Earth wants to show that the banks can not dismiss the abuses as incidents.

The Draw the Line report in English: here.

This 29 June 2018 Dutch Friends of the Earth video is about how Dutch banks invest savings of Dutch people in destructive palm oil business.

These abuses are in Liberia, Sumatra in Indonesia and elsewhere.

Mammal research in Indonesian Borneo

This video from Malaysia says about itself:

A collection of some of the wonderful smaller mammals found at Mt Kinabalu and Danum Valley in Borneo. The animals (in order) are Giant Squirrel, Plain Pygmy Squirrel, Prevost’s Squirrel, Mountain Treeshrew, and Red Leaf Monkeys (Maroon Langur).


Surprising habitat: camera traps reveal high levels of mammal diversity in oil palm plantations

Julian Moll-Rocek

July 21, 2014

At first the forest seems still, with only the sounds of busy insects and slight movement of wind betraying activity in the patchy undergrowth. Then, curiously, a Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga), an animal resembling half cat and half weasel, scampers out to claim its prize: a stick smeared with margarine and honey. CLICK! Sensing the animal’s body heat, a camera trap strapped to a nearby tree captures an image of this creature’s inquisitive behavior.

After more than four and a half years of camera trap footage, the results are encouraging: 36 mammal species, of which more than half are legally protected, are prospering in this most surprising of spots: an oil palm plantation in the province of East Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Indonesian Natural History, co-authors Deni Wahyudi and Rob Stuebing used camera traps to inventory mammal populations throughout the oil palm plantations and designated conservation reserves set aside by the palm oil company PT REA Kaltim. The study took place throughout REA Kaltim’s 30,000-hectare oil palm plantation, of which 18 percent, or over 5,000 hectares, have been kept as conservation reserves comprised of forests along rivers, peatlands, and hills. Among the mammals recorded were several small populations of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus, listed as Endangered by the IUCN), sun bears (Helarctos malayanus, listed as Vulnerable) and flat headed cats (Prionailurus planiceps, listed as Threatened). These results suggest that important levels of biodiversity can be maintained within human modified landscapes if appropriate measures are taken to conserve key areas of habitat.

A publicly listed company from the U.K. and traded on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, REA acquired its first oil palm concession, PT. REA Kaltim Plantations, in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in the early 1990s. The group has since expanded to other districts and now holds title to six oil palm concessions in East Kalimantan and three mills, two of which have methane capture facilities.

Palm oil is used as an ingredient in everything from donuts to shampoo, and has been hugely criticized for spurring massive deforestation throughout the tropics. Replacing huge tracts of rainforest with monoculture plantations of this African palm (Elaeis guineensis) has had many negative impacts on biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and the global climate. In Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, expanding oil palm plantations have led to abuses of indigenous land rights and conversion of peat lands, which has released huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Stuebing is quick to condemn development practices, in forests are felled and wildlife killed to make room for oil palm plantations.

“Numerous companies have entered Indonesia since PT. REA Kaltim established its first oil palm plantation in East Kalimantan in the early 1990s,” he said. “Most showed a less than stellar environmental ethic. Some were involved in killing orangutans and basically scorched the earth [due to] land clearing practices. In other words, old habits and traditions are in dire need of reform.”

Saving São Tomé and Príncipe birds

This video says about itself:

6 April 2012

Academy researchers explain why Sao Tome and Principe are so special and extreme. Featuring Robert C. Drewes -curator in the department of Herpetology, and Roberta Ayers -Senior Educator at the California Academy of Sciences.

Check out the blog here.

From BirdLife:

Government of São Tomé e Príncipe unveils conservation plans for saving some of the most threatened birds in Africa

By Nairobi volunteer, Tue, 25/02/2014 – 06:56

The Director of Environment, Mr. Arlindo E Carvalho, on Monday 17 February 2014 launched the São Tomé e Príncipe International Species Action Plans for Critically Endangered bird species in the country. The plans will guide the government and other stakeholders in the conservation of threatened birds of the São Tomé islands.  The Plans were developed as part of a BirdLife initiative to ensure protection and conservation of priority forest habitats on São Tomé to reduce the extinction risk of Critically Endangered birds and benefit other globally threatened endemic biodiversity. The Plans focus on three Critically Endangered birds, namely Dwarf Olive Ibis (Bostrychia bocagei), São Tomé Fiscal (Lanius newtoni) and the São Tomé Grosbeak (Neospiza concolor).  A separate plan has been developed for the Príncipe Thrush (Turdus xanthorhynchus), another critically endangered bird found in Príncipe, and will be launched in the near future.

The islands of São Tomé e Principe are extraordinary in terms of the richness and uniqueness of the species found there.  They are one of Africa’s major centres of wildlife endemism (including 28 endemic bird species and many mammals, reptiles and plants). The forests on the islands have been classified as the second most important for biodiversity conservation in Africa.  Sadly, this exceptional biodiversity is under serious threats, mainly in the form of habitat loss and habitat degradation powered by agricultural expansion and intensification (mainly palm oil plantations). Another key threat is increased mortality from hunting for food by humans and predation by introduced species.

Read previous stories about São Tomé and palm oil plantations:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Proctor & Gamble accused of Indonesian rainforest destruction

This video says about itself:

GREEN (Palm Oil Deforestation) – Documentary by Patrick Rouxel

19 May 2011

Documentary on the Indonesian rainforest, deforestation and orangutan extinction.

It is a silent film (without narration, but with music) which addresses itself both to the Indonesians and the consumers of wood/paper/palm oil around the world.

This important documentary was filmed in the fast disappearing Indonesian rainforest and is not narrated, however, its message is clear and frightening. The home of the Orangutan and many other wildlife species in Indonesia is being decimated at an alarming rate by consumer need and greed.

The film features the widespread practice of ‘slash and burn’ to clear the lush rainforest to make way for extensive palm oil plantations which we, the consumer, support in our demand for our favourite foods, magazines, cosmetics, and, increasingly, biofuel. The practice has also seen Indonesia move into third place behind the US and China with regard to carbon emissions due to the uncovering of peat soil which has lain, undisturbed, below the tropical rainforest for centuries. The film exposes the illegal pet trade that thrives in Indonesia and the sick, despairing lives of those Orangutan who spend years, often all their lives, locked in small cages, suffering, alone.

The story thread follows the fate of a female Orangutan who has been captured and brought in because her forest home has been decimated. She is one of the lucky ones — most are slaughtered without mercy when caught. Her fate though, is not a happy one, as her trauma at the hands of man is too great. Your heart will break with resounding pity, but it is even more sobering to know that she is only one of hundreds every week who will suffer a similar fate.

Make sure everyone you know watches this documentary. We owe it to our friends, the gentle Orangutan, we owe it to our planet, and we owe it to ourselves so that we can learn from it.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Proctor & Gamble ‘linked to rainforest destruction

Wednesday 26th February 2014

Maker of Pantene shampoo sources palm oil from suppliers linked to destroyed woodland and forest fires in Indonesia

Environmentalists accused US household products giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) yesterday of being responsible for the destruction of swathes of Indonesian rainforest.

Greenpeace said the company was using palm oil from suppliers linked to the destruction of the ancient woodlands.

It linked a Malaysian supplier to P&G with highly polluting forest fires in Sumatra last June.

P&G is the latest company to be targeted by Greenpeace as the group seeks to embarrass major firms over sourcing Indonesian palm oil and paper from suppliers that cause environmental destruction.

Greenpeace says the expansion of palm oil plantations is destroying the habitat of endangered orangutans and tigers.

P&G uses palm oil in household products including Head & Shoulders and Pantene shampoos and Gillette shaving gel.

“The maker of Head & Shoulders needs to stop bringing rainforest destruction into our showers,” said Greenpeace forest campaign head Bustar Maitar.

“It must clean up its act and guarantee to its customers that these products are forest-friendly.”

P&G was not immediately available for comment yesterday.

Greenpeace urged P&G to join other leading companies which have committed to implementing a no-deforestation policy.

Greenpeace’s campaigns have caused several global companies, including Unilever, Nestle and L’Oreal, to publicly commit to zero deforestation in coming years.

Many palm oil and paper companies have made such commitments after losing major clients because of Greenpeace campaigns.

Illegal logging and poor law enforcement have meant that deforestation is rampant in Indonesia.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saving sun bears in Malaysia

This video says about itself:

3 Feb 2013

Survival of the Sun Bears is an awareness campaign and documentary film project to educate the greater public about sun bears and their struggle to survive in the diminishing forests of Borneo.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sun bear sanctuary to save ‘forgotten species’

South-east Asia’s endangered bears losing habitat to palm oil plantations as poachers target them for their bile and meat

Ami Sedghi

Monday 6 January 2014 13.35 GMT

Like a proud dad, Siew Te Wong’s office walls and desk are covered in baby pictures, but unlike ordinary infants these possess four-inch claws and a taste for insects and honey. Wong, a leading sun bear researcher, has a heartfelt passion for the world’s smallest bear that is as big as the problems facing the species.

The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) lives in south-east Asia, Sumatra and Borneo and was first listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN‘s “red list” of threatened species in 2007. Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said in 2011 that the sun bear population was suspected to have declined by more than 30% in the past 30 years. Deforestation, uncontrolled exploitation for trade and illegal poaching were named as major causes.

Named sun-bear man by the local Malayan press, Wong is working hard to raise awareness of what he calls the “forgotten bears species”. The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, nestled next door to the Sepilok Orangutang sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia, is set to be the first of its like in the world. Due to open next month, it will focus on animal welfare, education, research and rehabilitation.

“We need the public, from all levels, to understand the importance of the rainforest,” says Wong. “I think education is fundamental because sun bears are still lacking in terms of the conservation work and research. And a lot of that boils down to the fact that people do not know about the species, people do not care about the species.”

WWF says that the global demand for palm oil has been a major driver in the level of deforestation seen in Indonesia, while Greenpeace warns that Indonesia is planning for another 4m hectares of palm oil plantations by 2015, in addition to the existing 6m.

Despite the species being protected by law for decades, Wong thinks more can be done to enforce wildlife law – the maximum penalty is five years in jail or 100,000 ringgit (almost £20,000) or both. “It’s always considered not to be a priority,” he explains, “so the law is rarely being enforced and sometimes people don’t know that it’s actually against the law.”

He tells stories of encounters with villagers keeping sun bear cubs as pets; “oh, my grandfather used to have two bears, my father used to have one bear, why can I not have one bear?” and shocking use of the bear’s paws for food, a dish he tells me that was once considered an Emperor’s dish. “If you Google bear paw stew you can actually find recipes on the internet. They teach you how to cook bear paw stew, can you believe that?” he shakes his head incredulously. “It’s crazy. Absolutely crazy.”

Among the piles of reports on his desk, horror stories of bears squashed into tiny cages, being farmed for their bile, Wong picks up a picture of him in his younger years with a rescued sun bear cub after its mother was killed by poachers. “I just cannot turn a blind eye,” he says, glancing at the image. “Even though the number may not be great, it has to be taken care of.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Save orangutans from palm oil with your smartphone

This video says about itself

Aerial View of Oil Palm Plantations and Deforestation in Borneo

This aerial footage of oil palm plantations and deforestation was taken in February 2010 in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).

Featured at the end is a beautiful orangutan baby named Luna. This innocent baby “disappeared” under questionable circumstances in April 2011. Learn more about baby Luna and her tragic story here.

A new free palm oil scanner app for smartphones reads bar codes of products and shows a sad orangutan face if palm oil is detected.

The El Paso Zoological Society in the USA writes about it:

The El Paso Zoo presents the Palm Oil Guide and Scanner. Find out what products contain palm oil and how to find alternative products without palm oil. From hand lotion to cosmetics and cookies – and even some “healthy” and organic items – palm oil is used in a variety of products we purchase every day, but the true cost of palm oil is the destruction of tropical forests.

Oil palm plantations are expanding around the world as they clear rainforests to make way for larger and new palm production operations. Join the international boycott against products that contain palm oil and purchase similar products that do not contain palm oil. The choices you make every day will help decrease the demand for products that contain palm oil and help increase demand for products from responsible companies. Encourage companies that use palm oil to use alternative oils or palm oil that comes 100% from sustainable plantations that have agreed not to destroy wildlife habitats. Make the right choice today and help protect millions of wildlife and plant species like elephants, tigers, orangutans and countless other rainforest animals.

This scanner is designed to help you make better choices at the store when you purchase food and cosmetic products that might contain palm oil. The choices you make are critical to the survival millions of plants and animals, global efforts to protect biodiversity, the health of the ecosystem and the quality of life for people everywhere.

You can download this app here.

September 2013. An army of rescuers in Indonesia has successfully caught a magnificent male orangutan stranded on the outskirts of a village and moved him to safety in a protected forest far from human habitation.

5 Ways You Can Help Save the Orangutans: here.

Palm oil company Bumitama under fire for clearing rainforest, endangering orangutans: here.

Study launched to find out how male and female orangutans meet to mate: here.

January 2014: One of the world’s largest beauty and cosmetic company L’Oreal has agreed to remove palm oil gained from forest destruction from its products by 2020. “In a win for consumers around the world, L’Oreal has committed to ending its role in forest destruction. Thousands of people in Indonesia and around the world who have signed up demanding forest-friendly products will be turning their eyes to companies such as P&G, the producer of Heads & Shoulders, and Colgate Palmolive to guarantee that they too are not peddling dirty palm oil from forest destruction,” said Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesia Forest Campaign at Greenpeace International. With this commitment L’Oreal now joins Nestle, Unilever, Ferrero, and palm oil giant Wilmar International and pressure remains on other companies to follow suit. However Greenpeace say that, although it sends out a strong message, this is still too long as it allows their suppliers six more years to clear forests: here.

Palm Oil Is In Everything — And It’s Destroying Southeast Asia’s Forests. “The equivalent of 300 football fields of rainforest is destroyed every hour to make way for palm oil plantations, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.” By Dominique Mosbergen.

HOW TO STOP DESTROYING THE RAINFORESTS WITH YOUR COOKIE PURCHASES “A new video released by environmental activists explores the issue of palm oil, which is found in half of all the products we buy — from cookies to shampoos — and is linked to the destruction of one of the world’s most important tropical rainforests.” [HuffPost]

Recent surveys of the population of endangered Bornean orangutans in Sabah, the Malaysian state in the north-east of Borneo, show mixed results. Populations have remained stable within well-managed forests, where there is little hunting, but declined in landscapes comprising extensive oil palm plantations, according to a new study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Donna Simon of the World Wide Fund for Nature — Malaysia, and colleagues. The study is the largest and most complete population survey of orangutans on Borneo, home to this endangered and endemic species: here.

Air pollution in South East Asia

This video is called Singapore’s air pollution level hits new record high amid haze.

By Gustav Kemper:

Air pollution emergency in South East Asia points to systemic failure

27 June 2013

On Sunday, June 23, 2013, the government of Malaysia declared a state of emergency for the two southern districts of Muar and Ledang, where raging forest and plantation fires are causing air pollution at a level not seen in history.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) climbed to 746 at 7 a.m., reaching double the level considered to be hazardous and life threatening to elderly people and young children if exposed over a long period of time. Government offices, schools, factories, plantations and construction sites were closed as well as schools in the region of Malacca, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

In Singapore, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) spiked at 401 on Friday afternoon, surpassing by far the level for unhealthy air, which is at 100. All values above 300 are considered as hazardous.

While wild fires and haze are an annual occurrence in the dry season in Indonesia and Malaysia, with small farmers burning crops to clear the land for new plants, the dramatic expansion of large palm oil plantations and deforestation for pulp production of paper mills have the largest impact on the air pollution in the region.

With the estimated production of some 31 million metric tons (MT) in 2013, Indonesia supplies 53 percent of the world palm oil trade. Malaysia follows with some 33 percent, or 19 million MT.

The Indonesian government was quick to blame Malaysian or Singaporean companies owning large oil palm plantations, while the Malaysian and Singaporean authorities pointed at the responsibility of Indonesia to enforce anti-burning laws in Sumatra.

As the financial district of Singapore vanished in thick haze, the government hurried to insure the public that all measures are being taken to tackle the issue. However, the health authorities were ill prepared as air filter masks were on short supply and pharmacies were out of stock for several days.

Fearing the negative impact on the tourist business and damage to the reputation of a “clean city” and ideal headquarter for foreign investors, the government hurried to announce an action plan, distributing 200,000 free face masks to the poorest households and offering support to the Indonesian firefighters.

At the same time, they tried to downplay the issue by pointing out that the PSI index of 401 was measured as a 3-hour average index and thus more sensitive to the peak values of the air pollution. They suggested that a 24-hour average index was a more realistic indicator of the health risk.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was meeting with residents of the Ang Mo Kio constituency, insisted that “for most people, the haze is an inconvenience; life can carry on”. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, chairing the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee, stated that while companies were advised to distribute masks to construction workers, the “country cannot grind to a halt” because of the haze.

While governments are clearly more concerned about the commercial impact of the haze, ordinary working people are angry that after many years, the recurring problem of haze has not been brought under control.

In fact, it is impossible to deal with the problem in a system where a quick return on investments is the guiding mantra of business.

June 2013. WWF has renewed calls for zero-burn policies to be enacted and enforced, as satellite hotspot analysis showed the single jurisdiction of Riau Province, Sumatra as the location of over 88% per cent of the fire hotspots that have seen Singapore and parts of Malaysia blanketed with the worst haze and pollution since 1997: here.

Singapore pressed Indonesia today to share maps that could identify plantation companies responsible for setting fires that cause deadly smogs: here.

After three weeks of improved air quality, the thick haze of smoke from deliberately lit forest fires, which began to spread across Indonesia in July, has returned to the province of South Sumatra. On October 14, the haze descended on the provincial capital of Palembang, causing the city’s Air Pollutant Index (API) to soar to an all-time high of 921. The return of the smog forced the closure of Palembang’s airport and most of its schools: here.