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Tripa Update

I decided to do a little bit of investigating of the Tripa situation whilst at work the other day, and was almost serendipitously presented with an email doing just that! An email had been sent around highlighting ways in which we could help the cause, and I found two petitions it mentioned particularly interesting.

Currently there is a petition circulating on change.org, urging the Indonesian government to properly protect the Tripa Peat Swap Reserve, and the orangutans who call it home. I was particularly moved by the description of the

Over the last week a man made firestorm swept through a huge area of the remaining peat swamp forests of Tripa, devastating Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) to the very brink of extinction, possibly within months.

Critically important, the Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh, Indonesia, have long been recognized as a UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership Priority Site for Great Ape Conservation.

In the early 90’s these forests are estimated to have contained between 2,000 and 3,000 but today only a few hundred survive, and if the current rate of forest destruction and burning continues, even these will be gone completely within a matter of months.

All the result of the illegal activities of a small number of rogue palm oil plantation companies.

Of one of these companies, PT. Kallista Alam, is actually right now being challenged in court, as it clearly contravenes National Spatial Planning Laws and the Indonesian President’s moratorium on new permits in primary forests and peatlands, supported by Norwegian taxpayers money.

The whole of the Tripa peat swamps lie within the Protected Leuser Ecosystem, a National Strategic Area for Environmental Protection in Indonesia’s National Spatial Plan established in 2008.

If this legal initiative fails, and if the current rate of destruction is not halted IMMEDIATELY, there will be no more forest and no more orangutans (and many other legally “protected” species) in Tripa by the end of 2012. This represents the death nell for this important orangutan population, the final nail in the coffin.

An Illegally Lit Fire in the Tripa Peat Region
Photo Courtesy of The Guardian UK

Sounds awful doesn’t it? They still need quite a few signatures to reach their goal of 15,000, so if this causes you to feel any of the countless negative emotions it evoked in me, please, sign the petition! You can already see how much it is helping on their update feed.

The second petition is one that targets palm oil buyers, specifically Goodman Fielder, and although it’s outcome has already been realised, I think it deserves a mention because of the clever name, and the incredible back story of its instigator. “Meadowlea, We Don’t Think You Ought To Be Congratulated”, a Community Run petition, is aimed at Goodman Fielder, Australia’s leading importer of fats and oils, to commit to 100% certified sustainable palm oil in their products by 2015. This petition was created by Chloe Nicolosi, who, at the tender age of twelve, stood before the Senate Committee at Parliament House and stated her case for why the Truth In Labelling Bill should be passed. I don’t remember what I was doing at twelve, but it certainly wasn’t campaigning for the protection of rainforests and the survival of an endangered species (I’m pretty sure I was watching NickCartoons on ABC and writing passionate love letters to Zack Hanson. I all of a sudden feel very much behind the eight ball).

Photo Courtesy of Orangutan.com

Chloe currently has 428 signatures, just 72 shy of her 500 mark. However, Goodman Fielder released a statement on their website in February this year, which states:

Goodman Fielder Limited shares community concerns regarding the ecological and environmental impacts of palm oil production in some areas of South East Asia, such as Borneo and Sumatra, and is pro-actively responding to these concerns.

The company supports the production of sustainable palm oil and is a member of the industry group, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Goodman Fielder commenced purchasing Green Palm certificates in September 2010, and intends to cover all palm oil used in the company’s Australian and New Zealand retail branded products by 2015. Our Integro Foods division has established a sustainable palm oil working group, which is investigating the feasibility of sourcing and supplying certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) through alternative RSPO-endorsed supply chain models, such as Mass Balance and Segregated CSPO (see www.rspo.org).

To the best of the company’s knowledge, any palm oil contained in our products in Australia and New Zealand is sourced from legally developed plantations and not from any party that, as far as we are aware, has engaged in illegal deforestation.

This is great news! The only thing that worries me about this statement is the “best of the companies knowledge” part. If you read my post that features the “Sustainability Lie” video, you would have read how Wilmar is claiming to use Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, whilst illegally clearing prime rainforest for palm oil plantations, and lots of other nasty things. Wilmar currently owns 10% of Goodman Fielder; perhaps this “to the best of the companies knowledge” part is a way to cover their butts on this issue? I guess it’s something to think about.

Photo Courtesy of Orangutan.com

So please, if this is an issue that concerns, upsets, or angers you, please sign the petitions and help these fabulous people in their fight to save this beautiful species from extinction!
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Happy Birthday Menyaru!

So it was Menyaru’s 9th Birthday on Sunday! Happy Birthday Malu!!!! I hope they gave you some extra special treats on your special day!

Courtesy of Zoos Victoria

Not only is Menyaru one of Melbourne Zoo’s gorgeous orangutans, he’s also one of the orangs born in the zoo as part of our captive breeding program! The success of this program is a critical part of replenishing the drastically low numbers of wild Sumatran Orangutans, and since then there have been a number of births, including the newest addition (and cutest baby ever!), Dewi. Seriously, if you can you should go and see her now, she’s learning to climb ropes and slowly gaining independence from mum and dad. So cute!

As well as all the extra attention and fruity treats, Zoos Victoria also gave a gift to the orangutans of the Tripa Peatland Forest, on behalf of Menyaru. They donated funding for two motor bikes to enable conservationists there to seek out and assist injured or orphaned orang-utans. How great is that? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside doesn’t it?

Well, I really do hate to bring you down, but there sure are a lot of orangs out there that aren’t as safe and secure as dear Malu, or Dewi, or any of our other Sumatran orangs. Those who call the Tripa Peat Reserve home have to deal with assaults on many fronts; n the past six months, approximately 15% of the remaining 10,000 hectares has been illegally cleared, almost definitely for palm oil plantations, and more than 20 fires are raging in the reserve (Zoos Victoria).

When reading these dark truths, it almost seems like their fates have been decided. However, there are things we can do to help! You can join me in my boycott of palm oil in packaged foods, join the Zoos Victoria Don’t Palm Us Off campaign, and you can also visit the website of and donating to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, which focuses on the problems in the Tripa region.

In 22 years, over 70% of the Tripas’s peat swamp forest has been cleared and burned for oil palm plantations. The remainder is being drained, cleared and burned illegally if nothing is done, wiping out the 200 surviving orangutans, and causing massive carbon emissions. We are fighting a battle against ignorance, greed and vested interests to uphold the Indonesia’s laws that protect these vitally important peatland forests, save the orangutans, and stop carbon emissions.

Good work guys! Together we can make a difference *cue obnoxious inspirational powerballad*

Day Ten

Day Ten! I’m a third of the way in, and feeling great! This week I’m planning to take a trip to Thomas Dux for some yummy treats, I’m going to be cooking an ethical dinner for the family, and I’ll be interviewing a dear friend about her new found vegetarianism!

I took this photograph at work yesterday. The gentleman in the photograph was playing a game of ‘monkey see monkey do’ (pardon the terrible pun) with one of our orangutans, where he would make a face, and the orang would copy him. People began to crowd around the pair, with parents holding their children up to the glass so that they could watch, wide eyed and giggling at the display.
There are many arguments against keeping animals in captivity and subjecting them to human observation, and in the case of private zoos that are opened for the sole purpose of capitalism and entertainment, I would not hesitate to agree. However, I think that organisations such as the Melbourne Zoo are extremely important in allowing people to see and interact with the animals that they, as a conservation organisation are trying to save. It is these experiences and memories that will resonate, and will hopefully have a profound affect on whether or not people will choose to alter their habits, andtake on these important campaigns, such as Don’t Palm Us Off, and also to hopefully pass this awareness onto their children.

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Toast. I hate to say it, but this is starting to get a little repetitive, I think I’m going to have to pick up another spread on my Thomas Dux adventure.

Lunch: Toasted Cheese Sandwiches. A simple classic meal, one of my favourites.

Dinner: I went to Kyle’s house for dinner, and his mum cooked us a lovely pasta with fresh tomato sauce! Yum!

Dessert: What was even sweeter this dessert was the gesture that accompanied it; you may have read in an earlier post my lamentation about not being able to eat my love’s Jelly Slice. Well, not only did he serve some up for me, he had also separated the base from the other two layers, just so I could have some. And it was delicious. A master of desserts, and consideration to boot. What a man, huh?

Day Three

Good afternoon dear readers! I must once again thankyou for taking interest in my journey through a life without palm oil; I hope you’re enjoying it so far! As always, if you have any questions, comments or advice, please don’t hesitate to comments or send me a direct message! I would love to hear from you.

Day Three was a wonderful day, but was not without temptations.

Breakfast: Staying at Kyle’s house the night before meant that I did not have access to the foods I was certain were palm oil free ie my Sanitarium peanut butter and my Helga’s bread. I was, however, treated to a lovely breakfast in bed, or toasted ciabatta bread with Vegemite! Those who are not from Australia and are not familiar with the wonders of Vegemite, it is certainly an acquired taste, but having been weened onto it since the introduction of solid foods into my diet, I love it. Yum yum!

Lunch: Today was no ordinary laid back Sunday. This Sunday, Kyle and I took my mum to the Melbourne Zoo, my place of work (and the organisation that got me onto all this palm oil business) to feed the giraffes! My mum is obsessed with giraffes, and so I thought it would be nice to give her a Close Up experience for mother’s day, cos she’s an awesome mum and deserves to be spoiled with giraffe feedings.

This is us feeding them carrots.

For us humans, lunch consisted of a BBQ, which by all accounts was palm oil free! And delicious.

We wandered around for the rest of the day, visiting amongst many other animals the Sumatran Tigers and the dear Orangutans, two of the critically endangered speicies that drive the sustainable palm oil campaign. If you have the chance to go, you should, even if it’s just to see Dewi, the 18 month Orangutan, because she’s the sweetest.
Seeing those amazing Rothschild Giraffes up close, who are also critically endangered, as well as the Orangutans and Sumatran Tigers, really drove home for me why I’m doing this. I don’t want to live in a world where these incredible creatures only exist in captivity.

Dinner: Fettucini Carbonara! With my little addition of San Remo pasta, another successfully palm oil free dinner! Yay!

Dessert: This was the hardest part of  Day Three. After dinner I went to my friend Laura’s house to catch up and have some beers and watch some bad television. Laura, being the wonderful hostess that she is, brings me a beer when I arrive, and some dips and crackers for us to nibble on. Normally, I would be into those dips from the get go, but the crackers were Clix, by Jatz, which are a big no no in terms of unsustainable palm oil! And of course, I have never wanted dip and crackers so badly! I was actually salivating. Thankfully, her boyfriend Rian saved me, by bringing out Banana Paddle Pops. Thank god! I did, however, leave feeling very proud that I did not give in, even though I really badly wanted to; this was my biggest temptation since the Jelly Slice, and the fact that I’ve come out the other side palm oil free has only strengthened my resolve!

Join me tomorrow, for Day Four! I’m also working on a couple of non food specific related posts, so if you’re not into all this food porn, these might be for you! Have a lovely day!