This year, World Environment Day is held on Sunday 5 June and this year’s theme is Go Wild For Life: Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade. As the illegal trade in wildlife products grows, endangered species continue to diminish. It is a sad state of affairs for some of our struggling wildlife around the world.
We wanted to hone in on a species that is very close to our hearts: the orang-utan. Orang-utans can be found not far from Australia, on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo where they can find the food that they need and help the forest to regenerate by dispersing seeds.
However orang-utans are now considered critically endangered, with 50% of the population declining in the past 60 years, mostly due to the loss of habitat. Trees are cut down to make way for development, or more commonly palm oil or merbau plantations. Without the proper habitat to support them, instead of spending their lives in the trees as they are supposed to they come down to the ground where they become vulnerable to being taken illegally for live trade or ape body parts.
The good news is that you have the power to make a difference. There are several things you can do, such as:
- If you are going to buy products containing palm oil, make sure it is sustainably-sourced
- Stop buying cheap and nasty, unsustainable timbers such as merbau
- Spread the word about orang-utans and what we can all do to help
Information was sourced from the United Nations Environment Programme. Find out about other animals under threat by visiting the World Environment Day website.