Seven Sumatran orangutans, including three mother and baby pairs, were saved from the tiny patch of forest that was being bulldozed by a company which is a member of an industry group responsible for protecting their habitat.
They were rescued from the PT Sisirau plantation in Aceh Tamiang, Aceh province, Sumatra, Indonesia and have now been safely released back to the Gunung Leuser National Park.
The plantation is managed by a company called PT. Sisirau.
The company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an industry group which regulates certified sustainable palm oil according to a set of principles developed by palm oil companies, traders, buyers, retailers, banks and social and environmental organisations, designed to limit negative environmental and social impacts of the industry.
These dramatic images have been released as evidence in time for the RSPO annual three-day conference, which begins on Tuesday in Singapore.
Palm oil is an ingredient found in up to half of processed foods, and is also increasingly being used as a biofuel in petrol tanks and power stations.
The expansion of oil palm plantations into high conservation value forests is recognised as a leading threat to critically endangered species including orangutans, elephants and tigers.
Helen Buckland, Director of Sumatran Orangutan Society, said: “We have today lodged a formal complaint with the RSPO about the actions of this member company.
‘The company knows that there are orangutans on their land, the estate manager has even joined the team on rescues, yet the bulldozers continue to tear down the last remaining trees.
‘PT Sisirau has been a member of the RSPO since 2008, but has not been certified as producing sustainable palm oil – and we hope that the evidence released today ensures that they never will be.
‘We are calling on PT. Sisirau to immediately halt all clearance and operations in the area, and for the RSPO to make an example of this company by terminating their membership.
‘The idea that this company could ever be allowed to be certified as producing ‘sustainable’ palm oil in the future is ludicrous. The RSPO’s credibility is really on the line here.’
Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founder and Director of the Orangutan Information Centre said: “As more and more forest is replaced by oil palm plantations, more orangutans become isolated in farmlands.
‘They are at serious risk of starvation or being killed if they wander into plantations in search of food.
Yet even palm oil companies which are supposed to be committed to sustainable production continue to destroy what little habitat remains.’
More information about the Sumatran Orangutan Society can be found at www.orangutans-sos.org.