Forest Refugees, Conflict Palm Oil

Tuesday October 22, 2013
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After flying in a heli from Jambi to Palembang is South Sumatra on assignment with Greenpeace nothing could of prepared me for the destruction that I witnesses. The forest clearing was relentless, all for palm oil conversion. It was like someone had given the land a bad hair cut. So many patches of segmented forest, cleared land, palm oil plantation and canals going for hundreds of miles.



In Aceh, the northern end of Sumatra the same thing is happening at an unprecedented rate. Almost 1.4 million acres of ancient rain forests has been cleared annually since 2009, according to the Huffington Post.

As the forest gets cleared the wildlife gets extracted. Forest refugees are caged in markets across Sumatra. From Medan to Palembang, zoos house many endangered species, confiscated from the pet trade or purchased illegally and all in appauling conditions. Slow lorises, siamang, sun bears, leopard cats, birds of prey, orangutans and elephants. 

A slow loris is endangered and protected species in Indonesia, Palembang Market

Street market outside Banda Aceh.

Leopard cat for sale. The sellers called it a little tiger.. 

Palembang zoo, other bears were de-clawed

A young Silver Leaf monkey for sale on the side of the road, Aceh, Sumatra 

A siamang calls out in a cry of desperation. Palembang zoo

Orangutans are rescued and relocated as the forest clearing, marches on. The Medan quarantine facility run by Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme is bursting at the seams, as they try to house all the newly orphaned.

Chocolate was on sale on the black market.

The great herds of elephants have now gone. " In the late seventies herds would pass for days, now 5 or 6 pass is few minutes" According to locals in Lumping Province.


Agum lost his parents on a palm oil planation. His mother was poisened, Agum waited next to her decomposing body for days, before he was rescued.   

The critically endangered Sumatran rhino's are just hanging in there in isolated pockets throughout the island and could be less than 100 individuals.

Indonesia has lost the Balinese tiger and the Javanese tiger. Do they really want to see the Sumatran tiger go the same way? Now numbered around 400 in the wild.

In a Greenpeace report 'License to Kill'  Today, 22 October, 2013 -The NGO claims that household brands that source palm oil through Singapore-based palm oil trader Wilmar International, such as the makers of Oreo biscuits, Gillette shaving products and Clearasil, are making consumers unwitting accomplices in the destruction of Indonesia’s forests, and pushing critically endangered species like the Sumatran tiger to the edge of extinction, revealed in a new investigation.

As palm oil plantations move into all the equatorial forest of the world, now is the time to boycott, products that use this cash crop. It's your planet, you decide the outcome.