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Palm Oil Deforestation and Illegal Trading Continue Pushing Sumatran Elephants Toward Extinction

Asian elephants are on the brink of extinction, but humans have more to do with that than the animals themselves.

There are already just 2,500 Sumatran elephants left in Indonesia, but humans are chipping away at that total by logging their forest habitat to make way for palm oil plantations. 

This episode of Earth Focus shows much more valuable palm oil and money are to some as opposed to biodiversity. Jim Wickens, a show field producer, travels to the Aceh region of North Sumatra to witness the illegal logging of a 6 million-acre protected park ecosystem.

"It's one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, and it's being destroyed," Wickens says in a whisper while on site. "Everyday, we can see palm oil labeled as vegetable oil, and a lot of it is coming from here in Indonesia."

More than 50 percent of the forests in Sumatra have been cleared for paper, wood, palm oil and more.

The episode also covers the illegal exchange of elephant calves and females near the Thailand-Myanmar border who are eventually used for tourist camps.

EARTH FOCUS airs every Thursday at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) on Link TV—channel 375 on DIRECTV and channel 9410 on DISH Network. Episodes are also available to watch online at linktv.org/earthfocus.

 

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