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Orangutang Numbers Have Dropped By Up To 30 Per Cent in Palm Oil Estates

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Orangutang Numbers Have Dropped By Up To 30 Per Cent in Palm Oil Estates

Do you want the good news or bad news first?

Let's get the bad out the way: he population of orangutans found in oil palm estates in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah have dropped by 30 per cent in the past 15 years.

According to a study conducted by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) - which spokespeople say is the most intensive survey ever done on any great ape in the world - show that orangutan numbers fell by 30 and 15 per cent respectively in Kulamba and Tabin, in eastern Sabah, between 2002 and 2017.

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash
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The survey - which was led by Donna Simon of the WWF - found that at least 650 of the beautiful animals lost their lives during this period, the majority living in forest patches typically found in oil palm estates.

Want to hear the good news now? Sabah's population of the endangered wildlife species is currently stable at 11,000.

Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Widely considered as one of the most captivating endangered species in the world, efforts to preserve the orangutan has faced numerous challenges over the year, particularly in Sabah where the rainforests of Borneo lies, with everything from habitat loss and poaching threatening the beautiful apes.

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"While the orangutan population has stabilised in the large forest areas, their numbers declined in forest patches within oil palm landscapes of the eastern lowlands of Sabah," WWF said in a statement.

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

"The monoculture nature of oil palm plantations means that they tend not to support species that are dependent on forest environment like the orangutan."

Malaysia is the second largest grower of palm oil in the world, with Indonesia coming in first place, and the commodity is the largest export for the Southeast Asian country.

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Used widely in food processing, it's found in many supermarket products including bread, pastries, cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and margarine. It's also used in personal products like shampoo, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Yet while global demand is growing dramatically, the production of palm oil has come under much scrutiny, and not just for the fact that large portions of tropical rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands have been cleared to make way for oil palm plantations, killing off animals in the process.

Iceland became the first UK supermarket to cut palm oil from own-brand products last year. Instead working with it's suppliers to use substitutes such as rapeseed and vegetable oils.

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For the sake of the orangutan, it might be time for others to follow suit.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Topics: Life News, Real, Palm oil

Naomi Chadderton
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