"This added a long list of conflict between between industry and wildlife, as well as [the] practice of nature exploitation," the group said in a statement. It called on Indonesia's government to protect the endangered species, which has about 54,500 individuals left in the wild. That number is estimated to be less than 14 percent of what it was in the middle of the 20th century.
Despite these low numbers, the slaughter of orangutans happens all the time in Indonesia. A 2011 study found that 750 orangutans were killed in just one year. Estimates for previous years have been even higher.
Though killing an orangutan is illegal in Indonesia - many cases have linked employees at palm oil companies to the slaughter. The arrests of two palm oil workers in 2011 for orangutan killings revealed that the men were paid $100 for each ape by the plantation owners. Palm oil owners see them as pests, because they sometimes eat their crops. This, combined with hunting for food and the pet trade, makes conflict with humans one of the largest threats to Bornean orangutans.
And not only are some rogue palm oil companies seeking out orangutans to slaughter them, some are also killing them in another way: cutting off their food supply. Over the past 50 years, Indonesia has lost half of its rain forests, which harbor the foods and habitats that orangutans need to survive.
One of the best ways to help save orangutans is to boycott companies that source unsustainable palm oil - and to demand that they improve their standards. See this page to find out more information about palm oil and how to help orangutans stay in Indonesia's forests. This site also has a list of certified sustainable palm oil products.