The destruction of rainforest in South East Asia for conversion to palm oil plantations is also causing the loss of wild animals like tigers and orangutans. Palm oil is used in many consumer products such as chocolate. With Easter approaching, the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand has published a list of palm-oil free chocolate goodies that can be eaten at Easter without any contribution to the ongoing loss of wild animals. They say food products like Lindt chocolate bunnies are free of palm oil, and therefore acceptable to eat. There are only about 400 wild Sumatran tigers left in their natural habitat, which is rapidly being converted to palm oil agriculture.
“By us going out every year and buying chocolates for Easter we are contributing to the destruction of these guys habitat,” said Peter Frazer from the Auckland Zoo. (Source: New Zealand Herald)
A news article from last year stated the greatest threat to orangutans is loss of habitat due to the increasing number of palm oil plantations, “The worldwide trade in the oil is considered the SINGLE greatest factor threatening the orangutan. In letters to Greenpeace, seen by The Sun, Nestle has admitted buying palm oil from PT Smart, part of the Indonesian giant Sinar Mas. ” (Source: The Sun)
The article references the great popularity of Nestle chocolate KitKat bars and that they contain palm oil. The Nestle web page for Kit Kat doesn’t list any ingredients, but says 150 Kit Kat bars are eaten around the world every second. However, the Nestle web page from their Canada site does list modified palm oil as a Kit Kat ingredient.
Rainforests in places like Indonesia are being destroyed rapidly, and that rate is due to the consumption of palm oil there and in affluent countries like the United States, and UK.
“But this phenomenal growth of the palm oil industry spells disaster for local communities, biodiversity, and climate change as palm plantations encroach further and further into forested areas.” (Source: Greenpeace) It isn’t just orangutans and tigers though that are being lost due to palm oil expansion. Animals like Asian rhinos and elephants are also disappearing.
Often the loss of wild animals on other continents seems too far away for us to do anything positive about, but it appears we can help by simply abstaining from purchasing chocolate containing palm oil–especially when there are palm-oil free options readily available. So for this Easter and going forward, you can do your part by choosing to buy only palm-oil free products.
Image Credit: Arctic Gnome