On January 3, 2022, a video was posted on Reddit with the caption: “An orangutan is trying to fight a bulldozer that is destroying his forest. It received tens of thousands of upvotes on the r / Damnthatsinteresting and r / nextfuckinglevel subtitles.

It was true that the video showed an orangutan trying to fend off the bulldozer as it destroyed the forest it lived in. This may have been one of the many times animals have indulged in deforestation equipment in the past. However, what made this encounter different was the fact that it was filmed.

Origins

On June 7, 2018, the Independent reported that the footage was not new, but was instead shot in 2013:

An orangutan was filmed apparently defending his home from demolition by loggers.

The animal was seen lashing out at a digger in Sungai Putri Forest in Borneo, Indonesia, as loggers bulldozed.

The video, which was said to have been shot in 2013 but was not released until Tuesday, was shot by International Animal Rescue, an animal welfare charity.

We looked in the video library on the International Animal Rescue Facebook page and found the old clip.

According to the publication, the images were first made public in 2018.

Documentaries

The video of the orangutan fighting the bulldozer was first featured in the 2018 documentary, “Red Ape: Saving the Orangutan”. It aired on BBC2 on May 10th.

The same video also appeared in the 2019 documentary, “Climate Change: The Facts”. The film starred Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg.

Deforestation and palm oil

According to Orangutan Foundation International, “Palm oil is the main cause of orangutan extinction”:

It is in 50% of all household and food products sold in the West. It’s an ingredient in shampoo, toothpaste, detergent, microwave frozen dinners, cookies, peanut butter, lotion, makeup and more!

Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil made from the fruit of the African oil palm, which is native to West Africa. However, it can be grown successfully in any humid tropical climate and has taken hold in Indonesia.

Palm oil is not only bad for the environment and a major cause of climate change, but it is also the leading cause of orangutan extinction.

Each year, it is estimated that between 1,000 and 5,000 orangutans are killed in palm oil concessions. It is a significant portion of the wild orangutan population that is lost, without fail, every year.

View of clearing for an oil palm plantation on November 13, 2016 in Trumon sub-district, South Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images)

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also published a page on the subject, claiming that “clearing forests for oil palm plantations and illegal logging leads to massive deforestation”.

A 2013 video of an orangutan battling a bulldozer to protect its forest in Borneo, Indonesia went viral in 2022.
Borneo orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) are seen on Salat Island as haze from forest fires blankets the Marang region on September 15, 2019 on the outskirts of Palangkaraya in central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Illegal fires to clear land for agricultural plantations have raged across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images)

“The brutal treatment of women”

On November 17, 2020, The Associated Press published an in-depth investigation that examined the “hidden” human element of the palm oil industry. The report documented allegations that went far beyond the simple destruction of orangutan homes:

Palm oil is found in everything from crisps and pills to pet foods, and also ends up in the supply chains of some of the biggest names in the $ 530 billion beauty industry, including L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Avon and Johnson. & Johnson, helping women around the world to feel pampered and beautiful.

The Associated Press conducted the first comprehensive investigation focused on the brutal treatment of women in palm oil production, including the hidden scourge of sexual abuse, ranging from verbal harassment and threats to rape. It’s part of a closer examination of the industry that revealed widespread abuses in both countries, including human trafficking, child labor and outright slavery.

Women are weighed down by some of the industry’s toughest and most dangerous jobs, spending waist-deep hours in water contaminated with chemical runoff and carrying loads so heavy that over time, their uteri may collapse and protrude. Many are hired by day-to-day contractors with no benefits, doing the same jobs for the same companies for years, if not decades. They often work without pay to help their husbands meet otherwise impossible daily quotas.

Regarding the video of the orangutan and the bulldozer, in short, it was true that the animal engaged with the machine that was used to destroy the forest. The clip was captured in 2013 in Indonesia.

Sources:

“Orangutans and Palm Oil: Protecting Forests to Help Great Apes | Magazine Articles | WWF. World Wildlife Fund, https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/summer-2015/articles/orangutans-and-palm-oil-protecting-forests-to-help-great-apes.

“Rape, abuse in palm oil fields linked to top beauty brands.” AP News, November 17, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/palm-oil-abuse-investigation-cosmetics-2a209d60c42bf0e8fcc6f8ea6daa11c7.

“Watch the moment an orangutan tries to defend his house in the jungle destroyed by an excavator.” The independent, June 7, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/orangutan-defends-jungle-home-video-digger-ape-borneo-indonesia-deforestation-a8387836.html.

“What’s wrong with palm oil? ” International Orangutan Foundation, https://orangutan.org/palmoil/.


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