Friday, 27 February 2009

Palm oil companies; frequently agents of death and destruction

At the moment I can see nothing stopping this relentless decimation of wildlife in SE Asia. With the exception of Greenpeace, big 'conservation' groups seem to be unwilling to do much (pro-rata their budgets) about this kind of thing and the small groups seem overwhelmed, under-skilled and under-resourced.

It is extraordinary as well as terrifying how this can be happening in our lifetime with so very few people prepared to take a high-profile (even low profile) public position on the issue of palm oil. The country with, at least in my view and experience, the most conservation groups, the most money, but does the least on the issues concerning the growth of palm oil plantations - the most important one effecting orangutans and other wildlife, is …………………….the USA.

And as for Canada, words fail me, other than to say if Canadian citizens have any concerns about the damage done by palm oil companies, their silence is deafening. I don't know of one conservation group in all of Canada which has made even a public statement on this issue, let alone written to retailers etc.

Conversely, even perversely, in Kalimantan (Borneo) it is US funded groups who have the massive budgets and nothing to show for what they claim to be doing: Don't believe me? Then try asking them to prove what they spend their millions of dollars on and how many orangutans it has saved.

The question to ask is: What did you actually achieve last year and what did you spend? The fact of the matter is, if any group is not making significant and cost effective progress, then it is failing.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are some of the reasons why all these animals are being slaughtered. In my opinion many people are failing in their responsibilities whilst making excuses why they cannot do this or that - I hear this all the time. But, this is all they are, excuses, coming from people who often make a good living out of the very same animals they proclaim to be helping.

Let's hope some of these very large groups like Conservation International,WWF, USAid/OCSP, WCS, etc will come under increased scrutiny sooner rather than later. Like the banks we might then find people at the top of some groups paid obscene salaries, with generous allowances, and failing their 'customers' (donors). Many such groups have had it very easy for a very long time, much like the banks the money flowed in and out with little accountability.

If you have not read "Green Inc", you will not have any idea as to the scale of this issue, in which case you need to read this book!


» 02/27/2009 15:08

Borneo, pygmy elephant at risk of extinction

The animal is very fond of palm oil, a precious resource for Malaysian industry, which kills the pachyderms to protect production. In 2008, exports of palm oil derivatives totalled more than 17 billion U.S. dollars. The WWF is asking for "long term" solutions to preserve the species.

Sukau (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In Malaysia, the pygmy elephant is at risk of extinction. The species - a variation of the common elephant - faces the threat of the Malaysian palm oil industry, which is not hesitating to wipe out the remaining specimens in order to defend the plantations.

Groups of pygmy elephants on the island of Malaysian Borneo are encroaching on the palm plantations, which over time have reduced their natural habitat. The animals eat the heart of the oil palm, leading to genuine battles with farmers.

According to WWF estimates, in the northeastern state of Sabah - crossed by the Kinabatagan river - there are 1500 pygmy elephants remaining: they were once considered the descendants of specimens from a private zoo belonging to the sultan of Sulu; now the dominant hypothesis is that they are a subspecies of the more widespread Asian elephant, from which they differ because they are about half a meter shorter (the pygmy elephant reaches a maximum height of 2.5 meters), have a diminutive trunk and large ears, and are generally of a more docile character.

On an ordinary day, they travel one or two kilometers in search of food, eating about 200 kilos of grass, palms, and bananas. But there is an increasing shortage of food because of the spread of villages, the construction of new roads, the creation of new plantations, so that now the animals sometimes have to cover three times their normal daily distance to find enough to eat.

Conflicts with human beings break out when the pygmy elephant encroaches on the palm orchards to eat the fruits of the plants, which are used for a vast variety of products from cooking oil to cosmetics.

The oil palm is one of the main resources for the export sector: in Malaysia, there are 4.3 million hectares planted with palm trees, and in Sabah alone, one of the 13 states of the country, there are 1.4 million. In 2008, the palm oil business amounted to 17.64 billion U.S. dollars.

"Human-elephant conflicts occur daily around the Kinabatangan plantations," says Raymond Alfred of the WWF. In some places, the animals are shot or poisoned. "We still need long term solutions," Alfred says.


Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent | February 28, 2009

Article from: The Australian

CHOIRY, an Indonesian illegal logger in his 20s, was carrying a load of timber with a workmate when the tiger struck. He never stood a chance.

As dozens of workmates scattered, some running blindly through the Sumatran forest, others scurrying up the very trees they were busy felling - the fully grown female killed him with a single blow, then calmly dragged his body into a secluded patch.

Over the next 24 hours, his terrified friends watched from the treetops as she ripped Choiry to shreds and devoured the pieces. "They stayed there until the following afternoon; they were too frightened to come down," said Didy Wurjanto, the senior government wildlife protection official in Jambi province, southern Sumatra.

Choiry's death a week ago was merely the latest in what conservationists fear could mark the final blood-spattered days of si raja hutan - the king of the forest, as Indonesians know the majestic creature.

Six farmers and loggers, as well as four cubs from a total estimated wild Sumatran tiger population of less than 250, have been killed in the past month in the island's Jambi and Riau provinces.

A day before Choiry's gruesome end, a father and son, also collecting timber in the Jambi forests, were killed by another tiger; the father, having run to a nearby river in an attempt to escape his son's fate, was caught and fatally mauled.

The Sumatran tiger is the only remaining species of three once native to Indonesia. Former dictator Suharto is said to have shot the last remaining Javan tiger sometime early in his 32-year rule. And the Bali tiger officially became extinct in the first half of the 20th century.

Rapid deforestation - the issue Indonesia is most trying to convince the world it is addressing in response to climate change - is largely to blame, with habitat loss having created a "crisis situation", according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Sumatra's elephants face a similar fate to its tigers, as do its orang-utans and those in neighbouring Kalimantan, all thanks to recent rocketing demand for palm oil for everything from cosmetics to biscuits to biofuels.

But an irony of the radical land use change has been that with plummeting commodity prices has come ruin for many of the small-scale farmers who invested heavily in palm oil.

Not only have they contributed to the forest destruction that is driving the wild animal attacks, but growing debt is now said to be behind sharply rising mental health problems and an increase in suicides.,25197,25115860-30417,00.html