Palm Oil Industry Kills Wild Cats


Palm oil plantations kill wild cat species

The palm oil business is booming. The demand for it is forecast to double by 2020. Palm oil is used in many products under 100 different names. It is used to make biodiesel and used in products such as shampoo, for example2.

Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit of oil palms. In order to meet demand 1,160 square miles of oil palm plantations will be created every year for 20 years. This often requires destroying the existing, virgin, forest where many species live including the forest dwelling and tree dwelling wild cat species. The lose their habitat. Their prey loses their habitat. The result: ultimately no wild cat species in these areas.

The wild cat species affected are:

  • tiger
  • clouded leopard
  • fishing cat
  • flat-headed cat – this species is in “the most trouble”1
  • bay cat
  • marbled cat
  • leopard cat (this species is the only that adapts to living in the new plantations, preying on rats).

It isn’t only about the loss of the forest habitat. The remaining forest becomes isolated resulting in cats trapped in island habitats. This leads to inbreeding. Roads built to service the plantations invite wild cat hunters and poachers. Wild cats who do wander into plantations can be killed by workers. Plantations pollute the soil and water with chemicals and cause soil erosion. Forest fires (to clear forest) cause air pollution.

There is a lot of destruction in the booming business of palm oil production. To me the wild cat species are the most important. The most publicized and well known species to be harmed by this business is the forest dwelling orangutan. Slash and burn deforestation decimates orangutan numbers2. Try to avoid buying products that contain palm oil if it is possible.

Refs:

  1. Jim Sanderson PhD – a small wild cat species authority.
  2. Why is Palm Oil so Bad by Tina Bayer (FCF magazine July/Aug 2013)
  3. Top picture: by DrLianPinKoh
  4. Bottom picture: by glennhurowitz
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Palm Oil Industry Kills Wild Cats — 8 Comments

  1. This is so very sad and another example of humans destroying the habitat of wild animals and not many of us seem to care.
    It’s the same with products tested on animals, there are plenty of kind alternatives nowadays but many people think their wants should come first. Take fairy washing up liquid for example, it’s more important to some that ‘their hands should be soft as their face’ than the fact that animals have suffered and died in labs testing the stuff.
    So I can’t honesty see many people refusing to buy palm oil products, sadly they don’t think about the future of this planet and the generations to come who will only see some species of animals, birds, etc in history books.

    • not many of us seem to care.

      There is some research that strongly supports what we know – humans think short term. They want early rewards. The same lack of long term thinking applies to the gradual destruction of wild cat species. We are not interested in habitat destruction until the very end when there are almost no wild cats of a certain species left when we leap into action and try and save the species. It is invariably too little, too late.

  2. We just can’t seem to keep our hands out of nature. We just have to get in there and mess everything up in the name of progress. Soft skin, fragrant hair, mile long eyelashes aren’t worth the suffering that we cause to animals. We destroy their habitats and do deplorable things to them.
    How many damn like products do we need on store shelves? People spend countless hours trying to make a simple shampoo decision from the hundreds available.

    I pretty much buy basic products void of hype and from companies I know do not do animal testing.
    I would hate myself if I knew that my shampoo was put in the eyes of rabbits in an effort to see how harsh it is and how fast its eyes were burned out.

    • Yes, Dee the price of washing our hair daily, which is not good for our scalp, is to kill wild cat species. Bizarre really. We should really stop using shampoo and find an alternative as it contains palm oil. We are rooted in our habits and so hardly ever change.

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