These are questions from kids about palm oil, orangutans, rainforest, and how to help. If you have a question, comment on the page and I’ll answer it!
What resources do we need to start the ball rolling at our school?
Do you think we are taking more than we need?
We humans, as the most powerful species on the planet, have a massive responsibility to keep the animals and environment safe. If we are destroying orangutans’ homes for wood, or burning the rainforest to plant palm oil for our chocolate bars, we are failing our responsibility. If the rainforest is lost because we destroy it to fulfill human interests, we have failed. If our planet becomes uninhabitable because of too much greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere, we have failed. It is so easy to take to much, and such a big problem to solve. But we have a responsibility to protect the planet, and if we realize our responsibility, we can succeed.
If you had the chance to talk to the head of a company that makes products that contain palm oil, what would you say?
I would talk about how we need to work together to find a way for the companies to continue to exist, but that is also sustainable for our planet: deforestation-free palm oil. In the last 60 years, we’ve destroyed over 400,00 square kilometers of rainforest in Borneo. This problem should be everyone’s concern because by protecting the rainforest we are protecting ourselves. Deforestation plays a major role in the release of carbon into our atmosphere, contributing to global warming and eventually leading to the destruction of our planet. The path we are on now as a planet is unsustainable, and we need to change. Many companies have already committed to deforestation-free palm oil, but the important part is showing them how much we want and need this environmentally-friendly option.
Has the government of Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia) taken action?
Yes, the both Indonesia and Malaysia are taking some action. The problem is now at a point where the people and the government need to come up with solutions for the rainforest. If we don’t take more action now, the rainforest will be destroyed to fulfill human interests.
How did you find out about this problem?
When I was 10 years old I traveled to Borneo for the first time on a family vacation. I learned about the problem when I visited the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, an orphanage and rehabilitation system for rescued baby orangutans. At first I was extremely upset about the problem, but I realized that I could help by raising awareness, and that’s when I started Jungleheroes.
Any other things that endanger the orangutans (besides palm oil)?
The orangutans are threatened mainly because of illegal poaching, logging, forest clearing for palm oil plantations, and other large scale development such as mining. In Indonesia, (the lower part of Borneo) it’s been illegal to harm or kill orangutans since 1931, but despite this, about 50% of Indonesian people don’t know that the orangutans are protected by law, so poaching still occurs. Unfortunately, logging is legal in some places in Borneo even though it is a cause for orangutan death as well.
Why plant palm oil in the rainforest?
Palm oil trees are actually native to Africa, but they also grow in Malaysia, Indonesia, and various other tropical areas. Malaysia and Indonesia are ideal places for planting palm oil because as developing countries, they are willing to destroy a lot of their land for planting palm oil.
Are there other organizations that help the orangutans?
There are many other organizations that help the orangutans and rainforest in Borneo. So far, Jungleheroes has fundraised for the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/ and sponsored a hectare of rainforest in Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo through Friends of the National Parks Foundation http://www.fnpf.org/. There are many other organizations as well, such as:
The UNLESS project at Philadelphia Zoo
Orangutan Foundation International
Borneo Orangutan Survival (Australia)
Does Jungleheroes support other animals besides orangutans?
By saving the rainforest we are not only saving the orangutans- we are saving the hundreds of other species who live in the forests of Borneo. There have been more than three species discovered every month for the past 15 years in Borneo alone. When we save the rainforest, we will be saving all the potential cures and new species that are yet to be discovered in Borneo.
Above photo credit: Makiko Takemura