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Save the Orangutan

14 August 2018 | Becky White

I don’t know about you, but when I think of palm trees I think of exotic beaches in sunny countries. Palm trees, despite their beauty, are also the primary source of palm oil – the extraction of which is ultimately ruining rainforests and killing orangutans around the world as we know them.

Statistics have shown an increase in the deaths of our closest cousins, orangutans, as a result of palm oil demand. In short, palm oil extraction involves chopping down trees in rainforests to make space for the planting of palm trees. Found in everyday items, such as shampoo, make-up and food, palm oil is bought on a huge scale which is causing a higher demand for it. Being present in almost half of the products purchased in UK supermarkets, palm oil is certainly becoming a major issue.

In response, Greenpeace has created an animated video featuring a super-cute baby orangutan, named ‘Rang-Tan’ with ambassador Emma Thompson as the narrator. Rang-Tan, who has run away from his home in the forest due to the effects of deforestation, finds himself in a little girl’s bedroom, who, upon discovering he is there, tries to get rid of him. Much to her annoyance, Rang-Tan stays and explains the dangers of living in the rainforest, how trees are being burned and that he is worried about the safety of his family. This heart-wrenching tale aims to encourage change and raise awareness of the damage that current palm oil extraction methods are having on rainforests.

Greenpeace is hoping that big brands, such as Nestle and Unilever, will eliminate dirty palm oil from their products by 2020 and begin using palm oil that has been produced more sustainably. A petition is also being signed in a bid to stop their brands from using palm oil in their products.

The video is set to be released ahead of International Orangutan Day on the 19th August, which is a day that encourages the public to help preserve and look after the species. It will then be shared across social media for optimal viewings and awareness. The video is also being transcribed into a children’s book, which aims to eventually be distributed across schools.

The animation is sure to pull at the heartstrings of viewers and hopefully create a positive change. This is certainly a very clever campaign by Greenpeace and one that I hope will encourage change across the globe. The charity has a track record of highlighting bad practice amongst big business and forcing a rethink, so let’s just hope this latest move goes some way towards saving the orangutans.