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Endangered species threatened by unsustainable palm oil production

The world’s most popular vegetable oil—palm oil—is produced in tropical rain forests around the world. While it can be produced sustainably, conventional production methods and unchecked agricultural expansion threaten these forests and the wildlife that call them home.

Orangutan mother climb with youngster

(Bornean Orangutan- Endangered; Sumatran Orangutan – Critically Endangered)

Indonesia and Malaysia produce more than 85% of the world’s palm oil and are the only remaining home to orangutans. Fewer than 80,000 of these animals survive today, their habitats under constant threat of deforestation.

Sumatran elephant heromid 247511

(Critically Endangered)

While Sumatra is home to several of the country’s largest national parks, many areas in these parks are still being torn down—illegally—to produce palm oil. Fewer than 3,000 elephants survive on the island, threatened by illegal palm oil production.

Scr 113477

(Endangered)

Walt Disney himself couldn't have created a cuter elephant. Only 1,500 or so of these baby-faced animals still live on Borneo, an island where palm oil production continues to encroach on their habitat.

Scr 279135

(Critically Endangered)

These smallest rhino are also the closest living relatives to the now-extinct woolly rhinos. Their population is unstable, threatened by poaching as well as the destruction of their habitat by unsustainable palm oil production.

Mid 204422

(Critically Endangered)

The last of Indonesia’s tigers—now fewer than 400—are holding on for survival in the remaining patches of forests on the island of Sumatra. While poaching claims most tigers each year, deforestation remains a serious threat. Sumatra has lost 85 percent of its forests in the last half-century, primarily due to conversion for palm oil and pulp plantations.

Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil logo

We’re Making Progress—and You Can Help

WWF is a founding member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which creates standards for sustainable palm oil production and certifies qualified growers and processors. About 20 percent of the world’s palm oil is certified sustainable by RSPO. When you shop for food, buy products with the RSPO logo to support companies using certified sustainable palm oil.