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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 everywhere. While it can be produced sustainably, palm oil made with conventional production methods can lead to unchecked agricultural expansion that threatens forests and wildlife.

(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.

 

(Critically Endangered)

While Sumatra is home to several of the country’s largest national parks, many areas in these parks are destroyed—illegally—to produce palm oil. The elephant population across the island is crashing, with far fewer than 3,000 surviving, as herds are left homeless, harassed and killed due to intense conflict with people over shrinking habitat.

 

(Endangered)

The smallest in size of Asian elephant subspecies, only 1,500 or so of these pachyderms live on Borneo, an island where palm oil production continues to encroach on their habitat.

 

(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.

 

(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 more than half of its forests in the last 40 years, primarily due to conversion for palm oil and pulp plantations.

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.

RSPO logo