COLUMN: We need to do more to help orangutans

By Josie Stout

We share the world with thousands of animals. We are not being “good sharers” because we are cutting down their habitat to make our own habitats. One of the animals we’re doing that to is the orangutan.

Orangutans are important for the world, but we are not helping. We are just taking their homes away. We are not doing enough to help orangutans.

Orangutan means “man of the forest” in the Malay language. I think this is pretty fitting because they have closely related DNA with us and they live in the trees.

Orangutans are the biggest animals that live in the trees. They eat fruit and poop out the seeds and help to keep tropical rainforests growing. But if we cut down the rainforests, orangutans can’t do their jobs.

Orangutans have a lot of animals and plants that need them to live. Since orangutans are being killed, all the animals and plants are starting to die too. If we help orangutans we help save the planet. But orangutans are dying because of habitat loss. This is sad because orangutans help to keep the Earth livable.

In the last decade orangutans have been killed at an alarming rate: 50 percent in the wild. Out of 100 percent that is a lot of dead orangutans. Bornean orangutans only live in the island of Borneo and have been endangered since 1950. Their populations have decreased by 60 percent. Well, it is not very surprising that they are endangered because they only live on one island. If they get extinct on one island, their species can’t just live on a different island.

Bornean orangutans are cousins with Sumatran orangutans, which have been endangered since 2008. There were 230,000 orangutans a decade ago. There are only 104,000 Bornean orangutans and 7,500 Sumatran orangutans today. This is sad because Bornean orangutans were endangered a while ago but the Sumatran orangutans haven’t been endangered for a while and yet they’re still more endangered than Bornean orangutans.

The destruction of the tropical rainforest in Borneo and Sumatra is a big reason why orangutans are endangered. With thousands of people working to cut down trees, the space with no trees gets big really quickly. Humans want toilet paper, which comes from orangutans’ homes. That is what is causing habitat loss.

Palm oil comes from the plant African oil palm, which comes from West Africa were orangutans live. It grows in hot and wet weather. People are not killing orangutans directly, they are taking their homes away and then the orangutans don’t have a place to live.

Palm oil is very popular and is used in a lot of stuff. It is very hard not to eat food with palm oil in it. Humans have indirectly killed orangutans because of illegal logging and legal logging in the tropical rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. People are following the law and still killing orangutans.

People are killing mother orangutans when they give birth and then they take the baby away and sell it for over $1 million. This shows that people do not care about the world; they just want money and then that baby orangutan will have a short life because it needs its mother.

Even though we can’t really do anything about this, we can still do little things. We need toilet paper. But you can buy toilet paper that is eco friendly, but most are not. You can help orangutans by simply using different toilet paper. It can make a big difference. Make sure to buy eco friendly toilet paper next time you go to the store!

Palm oil is in almost everything, but we can’t just take it out of everything because we need it. But you can try to cut down on the use of it; like eating peanut butter without it. But not just peanut butter; buy different stuff without palm oil in it.

Orangutans help nature grow. They have been dying because of habitat loss. Palm oil is in a lot of stuff, so there’s a big demand for it which is making people cut down orangutans’ habitats. Habitat loss and the illegal pet trade are the two main reasons orangutans are endangered. We are not doing enough to help orangutans.

Josie Stout is a fourth-grade student in the Apprentice classroom at the Creating Landscapes Learning Center. Students had to research a topic that was interesting to them, form an opinion on the topic and defend their opinion in essay form by using the information they found through their research. This was the final literacy/writing workshop assignment of their 2017-18 school year.

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