Deep in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, sits one of the largest and most diverse tropical islands on the planet. Borneo is the third largest island in the world behind Greenland and Papua New Guinea, and it's nearly 750,000 square kilometres of land is covered with some of the richest and most diverse habitats found on Earth.
Although well-known for it's immense and greatly undiscovered jungles, Borneo is also home to some of the most unique eco-systems on the planet, both on land and in the surrounding water, from natural swamps and caves to some of the most complex and developed coral reefs in the ocean. Species thrive on and around this magical island and many of the numerous organisms found here are found no-where else on the planet.
The island is home to some of the most extensive cave systems found anywhere in the world, many of which remain undiscovered by humans today. Clearwater Cave houses one of the longest underground rivers on the planet, and Deer Cave is not only the longest cave passage in the world but it is also home to over 3 million resident bats that have famously created piles of guano (dung) that are over 100 meters high. Both are found, amongst a number of other notable caves, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo's north-west.
Thousands of both plant and animal species have already been discovered throughout the island's diverse habitats (including the carnivorous Monkey Cup), and more it seems are being recorded year by year. Over 15,000 different species of flowering plant and 3,000 species of tree provide safety, food and shelter to some of the rarest and most unique animals on Earth, including endemic forest species such as Orang-utans, Asian Elephants and Clouded Leopards.
Historically, the island had extensive rainforest cover but despite it's rich biodiversity, today both Borneo's wildlife and the native Dayak people are under threat as vast areas of forest are rapidly shrinking due to heavy logging for the Malaysian plywood industry, and to supply the world with half of it's tropical timber. Enormous stretches of natural jungle are also being cleared across the island every year in order to make way for palm oil plantations, which often stretch for miles into the distance.
Not only has this tropical gem already lost large stretches of it's natural rainforest, it is thought that even more of the jungle will be destroyed in the coming years with the building of hydroelectric dams and the mining of other valuable minerals. More and more of Borneo's native species are therefore becoming increasingly vulnerable as deforestation and land destruction devastates their natural habitats.
Sadly, many of Borneo's most unique animals are now considered to be critically endangered and under imminent threat of becoming extinct in the wild forever. There are thought to only be 50,000 wild Orang-utans, less than 10,000 Clouded Leopards and only around 300 Sumatran Rhino's left roaming Borneo's shrinking forests today, with population numbers constantly decreasing.
Indonesia's growing palm oil industry is responsible for the destruction of large areas of natural forest that is home to native large mammals such as the iconic Orang-utan and the rare Sumatran Tiger. Due to an increase in demand for global supply, the palm oil industry has boomed in Indonesia over recent years with more and more forest being cleared to make way for the infinite rows of little 'trees' that provide oil used in a wide variety of products, from soap to chocolate biscuits.
Only a small percentage of the world's palm oil actually comes from a sustainable source as many companies are willing to buy their oil from illegally run plantations in order to knock a few pennies off the price (most companies don't even know where their palm oil comes from). Companies don't then even have to declare the fact that their products contain palm oil and are instead permitted to label it as 'vegetable oil' in the ingredients.
In an industry with so many rules and regulations, it is somewhat baffling that we aren't actually able to make an informed decision about what we are consuming, and whether or not we want to contribute to an industry that is causing so much destruction to some of the world's rarest and valuable species. In order to ensure that we know what is in the products we use and consume, A-Z-Animals.com has launched a petition aiming to collect at least 1 million signatures to change EU legislation, which will force all companies to clearly state if they have used palm oil in their products.
If nothing continues to be done, it is thought that Orang-utans, along with a number of Borneo's other indigenous species, will be extinct in the wild within the next 10 years. Now is the last chance we have to prevent the loss one of our closest living relatives.
Save the rainforest. Save the orang-utan. Save the world.
Sign the petition today and find out more at:
A-Z Animals Palm Oil Campaign