|Fruit from which palm oil is produced|
The demand for this popular vegetable oil is growing. Already 40-50% of the items found in homes in the US and one out of every ten items in supermarkets in the UK contain palm oil.
A recently published study (July 10) in the journal Current Biology report the need to prevent these large plantations from spreading to Africa. The article states that of the area deemed suitable for palm oil plantations, 42.3% of that area overlaps with the African great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas). Almost 40% of the distribution of great apes in Africa on unprotected land overlaps with areas considered suitable for palm oil plantations. The authors determined that palm oil plantations will pose a significant threat to apes in Africa. In some countries, areas suitable for growing this crop overlap with ape habitat by as much as 80%.
|Palm oil plantation|
Food for thought: Apes have a very long life cycle. For example, orangutan offspring remain with their mothers until on average eight years old and won't give birth themselves until around age 15. When they do give birth, it's to a single offspring. How does this long life history work against them when it comes to conservation efforts? Think about population numbers.