Greenpeace has hit out at big brands including Unilever, Nestlé and Mondelez for their role in deforestation for palm oil, by launching a powerful animation that shows how orangutans are being pushed to the brink of extinction due to the palm oil crisis.
The short animation, voiced by English actress Dame Emma Thompson, tells the story of baby Rang-tan as she causes mischief in a little girl’s bedroom. Just as the girl is about to banish her, she asks Rang-tan what brought her there.
Rang-tan’s memories are harrowing. They show her forest home destroyed, trees burning, huge machines hacking others to the ground and her mother lying injured.
Orangutans spend 95% of their lives in the trees, but right now, Indonesia’s forests are disappearing at the rate of one football pitch every 25 seconds. Bornean orangutan numbers more than halved between 1999 and 2015 with the loss of approximately 150,000 individuals – that’s more than 25 a day.
Palm oil is used in almost half the products bought in UK supermarkets and demand is increasing at an alarming rate. Ending their part in deforestation for palm oil was a promise that Unilever, Nestle and Mondelez, along with many other brands made a decade ago, with 2020 their deadline.
On International Orangutan Day, which falls on 19 August, they will have just 500 days to go and they are way off target. The film marks the start of Greenpeace’s campaign to ramp up pressure on brands to keep their promise and end destruction of the rainforests.
Dame Emma Thompson, campaign ambassador, said: “When Greenpeace asked me to narrate Rang-tan, I didn’t hesitate. For too long big brands have been getting away with murder. And for too long our response to orangutans has been ‘ohhh, poor thing’ as we’re shown photographs of them orphaned and at death’s door. But change is possible – we can make it so.
“By making a noise, demanding answers and forcing change, we can stop feeling sorry. Instead, we can feel exhilarated as we witness these iconic beasts living truly wild once more. If we accomplish that, believe me, we will all be much better off.”
Greenpeace are calling on people to take action by signing a petition to tell big brands to stop using palm oil from forest destroyers. You can sign the petition here.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea