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What’s the Beef with Palm?

News Section Icon Published 06/04/2017

Our recently released short film What’s the Beef with Palm? highlights the issue of deforestation in Sumatra - which has been driven chiefly by the expansion of palm oil plantations.

This the first in a series of Dead Zone films, recorded during our CEO Philip Lymbery’s gruelling two-year investigation into the effect of factory farming on wildlife.

A biologically rich landscape

The Sumatran rainforest is one of the most biologically rich landscapes in the world. Holding 10% of the world’s known plants, 12% of the world’s mammals and 17% of the world’s birds, it is also the only home to the Sumatran elephant, as well as tigers, rhinoceroses and orangutans.

Over the last 20 years the rainforest has seen an astounding increase in its rates of deforestation. Since 2000, 1.2million hectares of lowland forest and 1.5 million hectares of wetland forest cover has been lost. Less than half the country’s original forests now remain. This destruction takes place to make way for palm plantations. 

Elephants driven from their homes

The Sumatran elephant is on the brink of extinction yet its plight is largely unknown. Poaching for ivory is a severe threat, but the loss of forestry also puts the species in real jeopardy.

Dramatic loss of rainforest drives the Sumatran elephant from the land where it once lived. With more than a third of their jungle habitat disappearing; there are only around 2,500 Sumatran elephants left.

Consumer demand for palm

The global palm trade is worth 42 billion dollars a year. Whilst palm can be found in around half of all packaged products sold in supermarkets, such as biscuits and cosmetics, many are unaware that it is commonly used as cheap animal feed in factory farms. The palm kernel is rendered down into oil or ‘cake’ and used to feed cattle, pigs, poultry, goats and fish.

Shockingly, the Indonesian government continues to allow the deforestation and allocates more and more land to palm plantations.

Philip’s book Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were is available to purchase online and also in audio book format.


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