Elephants Poisoned For Encroaching On Palm Oil Plantation

Palm Oil Plantations Destroying Biodiversity

Two critically endangered Sumatran elephants were found dead in an Indonesian national park and it is believed they were poisoned by workers for a palm oil corporation operating in the area, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Now, three dead elephants have been found in Tesso Nilo National Park on Sumatra island in the last month. The carcasses of a five-year-old male and a young female were found on Friday within a kilometer of each other, said WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar.

File Photo: Villagers inspect the carcass of a Sumatran elephant allegedly poisoned by workers at a palm oil plantation in Krueng Ayon.

“We believe that the elephants were poisoned as the carcasses were quite close to each other,” she said, adding that autopsies needed to be conducted before the cause of death could be confirmed.

A Sumatran elephant was discovered dead in the park early last month, also from suspected poisoning, she added. Fifteen Sumatran elephants were found dead last year in Riau province, where the national park is located. Approximately half of the fatalities were poisoned–sentencing them to a slow and miserable death, Syamsidar said.

forest conservation in Indonesia

Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rampant expansion of palm oil and paper plantations and the mining industry have destroyed nearly 70 percent of the elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, according to the WWF, and the animals have been targeted by poachers.

palm oil deforestation

In January, 14 Borneo pygmy elephants were found dead of suspected poisoning in the Malaysian state of Sabah (on the nearby island of Borneo). Three-month-old orphaned calf Joe made headlines around the world when he was pictured trying to rouse his dead mother.

Source: http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/poisoning-suspected-in-elephant-deaths-1.1526724#.Ua5NToK_2NA

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Palm Oil Promoting Wildlife Extinction

Palm Oil Destroying Biodiversity

Palm oil plantations supplies to vegetable oil and biofuels could be accelerating the effects of climate change, new research shows, adding further credibility to claims the crop is not environmentally sustainable and eliminates biodiversity, which is pushing many species toward extinction.

An international team of scientists examined how the deforestation of peat swamps in Malaysia to make way for palm oil trees is releasing carbon which has been locked away for thousands of years. Their report has been published in the journal Nature.

deforestation and endangered species

Microbes then penetrate the carbon and the harmful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is released, which is thought to be the biggest contributor to global warming.

Unsustainable methods of growing crop-based biofuels have come under fire as environmentalists question their overall impact on the environment and the atmosphere.  Most palm oil plantations are contributing to deforestation and total carbon buildup in atmosphere.

As governments and companies look to biofuels to provide a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels in transport, the industry has expanded rapidly. More than 80 percent of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia. According to some estimates, an area the size of Greece is cleared every year for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is especially attractive because it is cheaper than rapeseed oil and soybean oil for biodiesel.

palm oil deforestation

However, leaked European Union data has shown palm oil biodiesel to be more polluting than conventional gasoline when the effects of deforestation and peat-land degradation is taken into account.

In their study, the research team measured water channels in palm oil plantations in the Malaysian peninsular which were originally peat swamp forest. They found ancient carbon came from deep in the soil, then broke down and dissolved into nearby streams and rivers as deforestation occurred.

“We have known for some time that in South East Asia oil palm plantations were a major threat to biodiversity–and that the drainage could release huge amounts of carbon dioxide during the fires seen there in recent years,” said Chris Freeman, one of the authors of the report and an environmental scientist at the University of Bangor in Wales.

rainforest conservation palm oil plantations

“But this discovery of a ‘hidden’ new source of problems in the waters draining these peatlands is a reminder that these fragile ecosystems really are in need of conservation,” he added.

There are approximately 28,000 square kilometers of industrial plantations in Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo and there are even more planned, making them a major contributor to peat swamp deforestation in the region, the paper said.

“Our results are yet another reminder that when we disturb intact peat swamps and convert them to industrial biofuel plantations, we risk adding to the very problem that we are trying to solve,” Freeman said.

Indonesia deforestation and endangered species

Industry efforts to bring this deforestation under control have come through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It was set up in 2004 to establish clear ethical and ecological standards for producing palm oil, and its members include high-street names like Unilever, Cadbury’s, Nestlé and Tesco, as well as palm oil traders such as Cargill and ADM. Together, these companies represent 40 percent of global palm oil trade. But since then, forest destruction has continued. Many RSPO members are taking no steps to avoid the worst practices associated with the industry, such as large-scale forest clearance and taking land from local people without their consent.

On top of this, the RSPO actually risks creating the illusion of sustainable palm oil, justifying the expansion of the palm oil industry.

public relations firm and public affairs firm Denver and Phoenix

Crossbow Communications specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and wildlife conservation through its subsidiary–Sacred Seedlings. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.