Photo Essay: The Last Orangutans, by Sandra Hoyn

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The Last Orangutans

Orangutans, an entirely Asian species in the family of great apes, roam Indonesian rain forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. During the past decade, orangutan populations in the wild have decreased by approximately 50%. Human activities, especially the unchecked burning of rain forests to clear land for palm oil plantations, have resulted in a critical loss of habitat, driving orangutans to the brink of extinction in Indonesia.

Globally, the demand for palm oil is on the increase. This highly productive crop produces versatile palm oil and palm kernel oil used in the manufacturing of a myriad of everyday food products, as well as cosmetics, and biofuel. Singled out as the major cause of deforestation and shrinking orangutan population, the unsustainable production of palm oil has been blacklisted by environmental groups, animal groups, and concerned consumers alike. Slowly, the consumer push-back seems to start making an impact on the corporate practices of some of the world’s largest palm oil purchasers.

Photographs & Text: Sandra Hoyn | Website:

The last Orangutans


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