5 Things You Can Do to Help Save the Orangutan on World Orangutan Day

The urgency of the orangutan crisis cannot be overstated. Orangutans are only located in two places on earth, the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Both of these regions are being decimated by the palm oil industry. Orangutan Foundation International estimates that the orangutan population has decreased by 50 percent in the last 10 years alone. They will go extinct unless something is done soon to protect them.

In honor of World Orangutan Day on August 19, here are some things you can do to help.

1. Do not purchase food, cosmetics and toiletries that contain palm oil

When you purchase food and cosmetic products made from palm oil, you are directly impacting the lives of orangutans and other vulnerable animal species in Borneo and Sumatra. The massive expansion of the industry is the main threat to their survival. According to World Wildlife Fund, palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, and is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket.

It is found in many types of baked goods including cookies, bread, cereals, potato chips and chocolate. It is also used extensively in cosmetics and toiletries like soaps, creams, lotions, detergents, shampoos and toothpaste. Escalating global demand for palm oil has fueled the massive forest destruction throughout the world’s tropical regions to make way for lucrative palm tree plantations. Indonesia and Malaysia have been affected most; together they account for 85 percent of the world’s palm oil production.

The Facebook page PALM OIL-Products on American Shelves that Contain Palm Oil is an excellent reference for American consumers who want to know which products both contain and do not contain palm oil. One quick rule of thumb: if the saturated fat content of a food product is around 50 percent, the likelihood of the vegetable oil being palm oil is high. In cosmetics palm oil is labeled “Elaeis guineensis,” but its presence is often less obvious. Any ingredient which includes the word “palm”(palmitate, palmitoyl or simply palm) will include palm oil.

2. Support orangutan sanctuaries and orangutan/rainforest advocacy organizations

In the last 15 years numerous orangutan sanctuaries and advocacy organizations have been established in Sumatra and Borneo. They offer medical treatment to help heal and rehabilitate injured orangutans and prepare them for reintroduction back into the wild. They also serve as educational centers that advocate a halt to deforestation and the decimation of orangutans and other endangered species. These organizations are at the forefront of saving the critically endangered orangutan population. Learn more at International Animal Rescue Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation CentreSumatran Orangutan Society/Orangutan Information Center, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Nyaru Menteng Rescue CenterOrangutan Foundation International and Orangutan Outreach.

3. Educate friends, family and your community about the urgency of orangutan habitat loss and what can be done to reverse it.  

Tell your friends and family about the dire situation facing orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. Show them some of the educational videos and documentaries on the subject.  Join other animal activists in demanding an end to the destruction of their rainforest habitat. The Sumatran Orangutan Society website has a comprehensive take action page which describes numerous ways you can help orangutans.

4. Post information on Facebook and other social media sites.

Most orangutan advocacy organizations have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Follow their pages and share photos and posts with your friends and family, keeping them up-to-date on important orangutan advocacy news and issues.

5. Add your signature to these Care2 petitions seeking to end orangutan habitat destruction in Borneo and Sumatra.

Save the Sumatran Orangutan from Extinction

Cadbury – Remove deforestation from your palm oil supply NOW, not 2030!

Help Save the Last Forest on Earth where Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos and Orangutans Exist Together

STOP Using Palm Oil! – Trader Joes – Target – Safeway

Demand Nutella to stop using Palm Oil!

Finally, watch Budi, the adorable baby orangutan who was rescued after suffering months of neglect after being kept as a pet. Happily, Budi is making progress in his recovery.

My Dream for Animals was created to increase awareness about animals and how they are treated. It was also created to inspire people to make different choices in terms of animal treatment and welfare as well as give them ideas on how they can take action and help. Visit My Dream for Animals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Main image credit: Thomas Burns/IAR Indonesia


Louise A
Lara A1 months ago


Cindy S
Cindy Smith11 months ago

that pic is so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Richard A
Richard A2 years ago

Thank you for this informative article.

Richard A
Richard A2 years ago

Thank you for this important information.

Trish K.
Trish K3 years ago

No one on this earth needs Palm products - no one needs them
I can't look at any primate and not think it looks just like someone I know. Bless the Orangutans

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago


claudia S.
Claudia S3 years ago

Boycott palm oil!

Ricky T.
Ricky T3 years ago

Boycott all palm oil products!

Julia R.
Julia R3 years ago

Signed all petitions! We all need to stop buying products with palm oil and write to companies to inform them of their responsibility to source products that don't entail the destruction of rain forests which are the habitat of the orangutan and also financially support orangutan sanctuaries, rehabilitation facilities, and those organizations fighting to preserve orangutan habitat! Please also share this article with your friends so that they can make better choices on the products that they buy and the companies that they buy from! Please sign all the petitions too. Orangutans are very close relatives to humans and these amazing primates deserve to live as much as we do! I wouldn't want to live in a world without orangutans.