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Unsustainable palm oil linked to Orangutan demise:

New Zealanders must stop buying palm oil products if they want to save the critically endangered orangutan, according to a leading international conservation expert coming to Auckland this week.

“Only 7000 orangutans are left, in Indonesia and Malaysia, due to their homes in the rainforests being cut down,” says Dr Peter Pratje, the director of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP).

Image courtesy of Auckland Zoo. Auckland Zoo holds Bornean orangutans. This species faces the same dangers that impact on its natural environment as the Sumatran orangutan.

Note: Pot of Gold uses only sustainable palm oil sourced from a non-rainforest depleting area of the world. Our supplier believes in protecting native wildlife and has shown this by developing its farming methods in accordance with the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil. www.rspo.org

Dr Pratje says the destruction of the rainforest is to make way for palm oil plantations because of consumer demand for products containing palm oil.

Dr Pratje is coming to Auckland on Saturday 17 March to tell New Zealanders how they can help save the orangutan from extinction.

"It is up to consumers to fight for the orangutans," says Dr Pratje. “In the long run people need to try and avoid buying palm oil products. Pressure needs to come from consumers that these products should not be sold.”

Christine Tintinger, a keeper at Auckland Zoo, says people should be aware of the growing interest and use of palm oil as it is used in the manufacture of many consumer goods and biofuels. Palm oil is commonly found in detergents and cosmetics.

“Dr Pratje’s talk is relevant for everyone, and [he] hopes that anyone with an interest in protecting wildlife and the environment will come along. Along with the illegal trade of infant orangutans, the production of palm oil remains the biggest threat to the survival of this magnificent animal. As consumers, this makes us all connected to the problem and the crisis,” says Ms Tintinger.

“Rainforests are being torn down by loggers and orangutans are being poached and sold as pets. In the last 20 years there has been a massive destruction of the orangutans’ habitat,” says Dr Pratje. These animals are now officially considered critically endangered.

Ms Tintinger says that it is not just palm oil products, it is forestry as well. “People should also be aware of the wood they buy. Don’t buy native timbers that have come from these countries – this only encourages the destruction of the orangutans’ habitat.”

Dr Pratje has been fighting to save the rainforests and orangutans for years. His conservation work involves running community based patrols to ensure loggers and poachers are caught and convicted. He has also set up a rehabilitation project for reintroducing poached orangutans into the wild.

He is calling on Kiwis to get behind an Auckland Zoo initiative to save the rainforests and the orangutans from extinction. “All New Zealanders can help the plight of Sumatran orangutans in the wild, by supporting the work of SOCP,” says Dr Pratje. They can do this by coming to fundraising events, or making donations directly to Auckland Zoo.

Auckland Zoo is home to the Bornean orangutan. “Having orangutans here at the zoo enables us to play a big advocacy role,” says Jane Healy, communications coordinator from Auckland Zoo.

Dr Pratje first fell in love with the orangutan nine years ago when he got the opportunity to work on a conservation project for the animal. “It was my dream job,” says Dr Pratje.

Sourced from Scoop.co.nz. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0703/S00377.htm


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