The Sumatran elephant, a subspecies of Asian elephant unique to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, was moved to a status of “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) . Approximately half of the Sumatran elephant population has been lost in the last 30 years, with their numbers dropping to between 2,400 and 2,800 from an estimated 5,000 in 1985. Unless emergency measures are taken, this species could be extinct within the next 30 years.
Habitat destruction and poaching are behind this loss, and a substantial threat to the remaining population. Nearly 70 percent of the elephant’s habitat has been razed in the last 25 years, and deforestation continues due to the demand for palm oil, pulp and paper that Sumatra supplies. As habitat is destroyed, the elephants come into conflict with farmers as they wander into populated areas searching for food. The Huffington Post reports that some are shot or poisoned with cyanide-laced fruit, while others are killed by poachers for their ivory.
What can we do to help save this beautiful species of animal? Use our buying power. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that the fastest-growing toilet paper brand in the U.S., Paseo, uses pulp and paper from Asia Pulp & Paper, which has cleared more Sumatran forest than any other company. WWF recommends:
• Don’t buy Paseo products and ask your grocery store not to carry them until APP changes its deforestation practices.
• Sign a pledge to buy FSC-certified paper or products with 100 percent recycled content.
• Ask grocers, retailers, hotels and restaurants if they know the forest source of the products they carry, have a responsible paper-sourcing policy, and if they will carry more FSC-certified and recycled-fiber paper products.
Photo credit: © WWF-Indonesia/Samsul Komar