The orangutans are victims of the rapid deforestation of the rainforest. Their habitat is being cleared to produce timber and for new palm oil plantations. Indonesia has now become the biggest palm oil producer in the world. We can no longer imagine today’s industry without the versatile and inexpensive vegetable fat. One in two products at supermarkets contains palm oil. But nature is paying a high price for this. In most cases it is valuable tropical forests which are the victims of the palm oil plantations. This means that as well as the orangutan, many other species are also losing the basis of their existence. In addition, slash-and-burn agriculture and the drainage of swamp forests release large quantities of greenhouse gases, and the chemicals which are sprayed contaminate the soil. Where new plantations arise, there are often also conflicts for the land use rights.
Another reason why the orangutans are endangered is the trade of orangutan babies. These are seen as a status symbol. To get to the young animals, the mothers are shot dead. In many cases, the young orangutans also die when falling from the tree. If a baby survives the fall, it will often die later in captivity because of the stress caused by the traumatic experience.