When we first sent James on his Borneo Safari back in 2003 our whole focus was on maximising the wildlife potential of his time in this beautiful country. However despite the amazing pictures he took in the Danum Valley and along the Kinabatangan River of Probosis Monkeys and Wild Orangutans, what I remember most is the stories of clear cut or burnt rainforest and huge monospecific plantations appearing in once prime forest. The whole topic of Palm Oil back then was not in the news, but we were being told about the plight of the Orangutan (Old Man of the Forest) and the destruction of the rainforest.
In the last 5 years or so, we had heard more and more about the effect Palm Oil plantations are having on the wildlife of Malaysia and Indonesia, but has it really changed our buying habits? I don’t think so! One of the reasons is the sheer number of products this oil is used in; check out this article on the Greenpeace website This naturally creates an apathy amongst consumers, as if it is so omipresent in our every day food products, how can we possibly make a difference? Unlike, for example the situation with Tuna and Dolphin Bycatch and the clear distinction between line caught Tuna that has become so fashionable in UK supermarkets.
When we talk about a disconnect, we mean simply that tourists visit Borneo and can clearly see with their own eyes the environmental and conservation issues created by the huge Palm Oil plantations, but 95% of them will return home and continue to buy a multitude of products that contain Palm Oil. Ghandi talked about ‘real change’ comes from the individual, but the more I see about the modern consumer, the more I realise that they only change when the other ‘starlings’ move in the sky, or a celebrity starts his own campaign to save wildlife. Wildlife Trails is looking to work with the best local conservation organisations in Borneo to save their forests; check out our Borneo Tours.