Mali the Bornean Orang Utan has given birth to a baby that keepers at Paignton Zoo are 99.99% certain is a female . Paignton Zoo has 4 Bornean Orang Utan’s a male Demo who is 14, and females Gambira 16, Chinta 22 and Mali 18. The birth of this baby is therefore significant in the effort of the zoo and other European zoos to conserve the species which has declined dramatically in numbers.
One reason for the decline in the species is the horrendous pet trade which results in many thousands of these wild animals housed in tiny cages and enduring the most horrendous and miserable experiences. However, an even bigger threat is posed by the deforestation that has occcured as a result of the explosion in the Palm Oil Trade.
Palm oil is an incredibly versatile product that ends up in foods such as chocolate, cream cheese, margarine and even oven chips. It is also used in the cosmetics industry quite widely. Although over 70% of it is used in food it is the growth in bio diesel that has resulted in a rapid increase in demand for the oil. Indonesia alone has 6 million hectares of oil palm plantations and by 2015 willl have added another 4 million hectares for biofuel production alone.
The tragic irony is that in order to overcome environmental damage from using too many fossil fuels another environmental disaster has been created by the growth in use of biofuel. Already 10 million hecatres of Indonesia’s 22 million hectares of Forrested Peatlands have been destroyed.
Mali and her baby are therefore very precious. The estimate is that globally there are less than 50,000 of the primates left. Put into context that is less than the 62,000 population of Torquay. As consumers we can act to help protect the habitats of these beautiful creatures by asking searching questions about where the ingredients in our food and cosmetics come from and by resisting the dash for biofuel.