Rhinoceros hornbill photo credit: Tabin Wildlife
Meet Five Animals
Most of the world’s palm oil is grown in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sumatra and other parts of Southeast Asia. It can also be found in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador and now West Africa. Many animals around the world are losing their habitat as forests are cleared and peat swamps are drained to make way for more oil palm plantations.
Learn about five species facing this challenge by clicking on an animal name.
Close to 80 percent of deforestation in Sumatra has been driven by the expansion of oil palm plantations. As large tracts of tropical forest continue to be cleared for agriculture, Sumatran tigers are restricted to small, disconnected patches of habitat. Reconnecting these fragments is critical to the survival of the fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers that remain.
Orangutans are found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Both species are in decline, with fewer than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild. Critically endangered Sumatran orangutans depend on several isolated and fragmented sections of forest in the Leuser Ecosystem to survive—the same area being targeted for development by palm oil companies.
Fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos remain in the wild, the majority of which can be found in Gunung Leuser, Kerinci-Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks in Sumatra. As illegal oil palm planting and forest burning increases, even protected areas like national parks can be at risk of losing valuable habitat for these critically endangered animals.
Sumatran rhinoceros photo credit: Save the Rhino International
Rhinoceros hornbills rely on natural cavities found in large, hollow trees for nesting. Decades of logging and deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra—primarily for planting oil palm—have led to the destruction of critical primary and secondary forests, causing the decline of this iconic hornbill by significantly reducing its nesting sites and food sources.
Oil palm plantations destroy habitat for wildlife in Latin America, just as they do in Southeast Asia. As part of plans to link habitat throughout their range, studies are underway to determine whether jaguars use oil palm plantations as corridors to move between isolated pockets of habitat, or avoid them as do tigers in Sumatra.