This post was originally published on July 2, 2015 and updated on January 15, 2020.
You can’t look into an orangutan’s face and not feel something for this marvelous creature. That’s one of the reasons why these mesmerizing animals have become the poster child of the palm oil debate. Some people think all oil palm plantations harm orangutans, but in Malaysia, the palm oil industry works to help these animals. Palm oil and orangutans have a storied past. And the Malaysian palm oil industry is working to ensure there’s a happy ending for all involved.
Malaysia’s Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center was the first center to return orangutans to the wild.
Sabah is home to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center. This facility was set up more than 50 years ago. It is dedicated to caring for displaced orangutans and other animals, as well as educating locals and visitors about how to peacefully co-exist with wildlife.
Most of the orangutans in Malaysia live in protected forests.
There are between 11,000 and 13,000 orangutans in Sabah and Sarawak, the two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Orangutans are not native to peninsular Malaysia. Most of Malaysia’s orangutans live on the island’s protected forests. That’s not a challenge as an astonishing 60 percent of Sabah is under forest cover. This provides ample natural habitat for the orangutans to thrive. Palm oil is also legally cultivated in these states, but only on land zoned for agriculture. Many of today’s oil palm plantations once farmed rubber or coconut, but were converted to efficient and sustainable oil palm.
The Malaysian palm oil industry is a partner in many conservation efforts.
The Malaysian palm oil industry has partnered with the Malaysian government on the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF). Palm oil executives participate in highly effective conservation efforts throughout the country. For example, MPOWCF funded an orangutan population survey which identified and mapped key habitats to better protect these majestic creatures. MPOWCF also partners with the Sabah Forestry Department on the Wildlife Rescue Unit and a Jungle Patrol. These teams monitor protected wildlife and help any in need. Not stopping with orangutans, the MPOWCF has also provided major funding for the Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary.
You can help protect Malaysian wildlife, too.
You can be a partner by purchasing a Back to Basics cookbook. The proceeds from this Malaysian cuisine cookbook helps MPOWCF protect the orangutans and the other animals who call Malaysia home.
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