FernGully: The Last Rainforest is a favorite childhood movie of mine. I remember the first time watching that movie, my six year old self feeling such an enormous amount of rage and sadness with the very idea of such a beautiful, magical, species of fairies being destroyed so that someone could make money. Their once sacred homes were being invaded and destroyed by humans who had unleashed Hexxus-“an evil oil-like creature who, was turned into a tree when he tried to unleash chaos in FernGully” (www.imbd.com). (Sound familiar?) Now, when I learn of real rainforest destruction taking its toll on animal life, my 24 year old self still suffers that same rage and sadness that I felt when watching FernGully 18 years ago. Only now, the rage and sadness don’t go away when I turn the television off; it’s constantly felt. Sure, rainforest deforestation isn’t killing off a magical species of fairies, but it is in fact killing off beautiful mammal species that are irreplaceable. Although an “evil oil-like” creature isn’t responsible for this destruction, another oil product is: palm oil.
Sumatran tigers and rhinoceros, Asian elephants, and the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans are only just a few of the animals that are affected by deforestation of the rainforest. For years now, areas in Malaysia and Indonesia have been destroying thousands of square miles of vital rainforest to create fertile agriculture lands for oil palm plantations. With the rainforest being accounted for housing nearly 70% of earth’s species, one can only begin to imagine just how many animals are displaced with every square mile of rainforest that is destroyed.
Habit destruction isn’t the only thing destroying the animals of the rainforest. Fire and human hunters also add to the tragic mix. Sadly, the quickest and most fertile way to create land for oil palms is to set fire to the rainforest. Often times, the burns are uncontrollable and end up destroying more rainforest than originally intended. Regardless of how much rainforest is burned, animals and plants still die. Imagine how many animals have burned to death just because of the demand for palm oil in developed nations. It’s truly an unsettling thought.
In addition to habitat displacement and fire, animals that are driven from their homes are often found pushing the boundaries of human/animal interaction. Because they are typically starving and confused, elephants, tigers and orangutans are continuously crossing into human thresholds. Orangutans frequently raid the very oil palms that displaced them to eat the fruit of its trees. Farmers and plantation owners are legally permitted to kill these endangered species if they “trespass” onto their oil palm plantation. Furthermore, tigers and elephants have been reported as attacking humans, sometimes even in well developed areas. These behaviors are extremely rare and are believed to be solely the product of their habit destruction.
Putting an end to rainforest destruction won’t be as easy as it was for the fairies in FernGully. However, if enough of us work together, we too can conquer the evil doers, and as cliché as it may sound, save the rainforest. If you would like to learn more about rainforest deforestation for the palm oil industry and what you can do to help, follow this link: (http://palmoilenvironment.weebly.com/).
Source used for this article: http://www.cspinet.org/palm/PalmOilReport.pdf