There are some 38,500 species left on our planet, and the orangutans of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra have been topping the list of those in danger of extinction for years. They are also listed in the Red List of the World Conservation Union IUCN. Organizations such as Orang-Utans in Not e. V. are firmly committed to saving these unique animals from extinction. To support their efforts, they offer their own merchandising as a source of funding.
Every encounter with orangutans is an emotional one, says Julia Cissewski, founder of the association “Orang-Utans in Not e. V.” and shop owner of the eponymous Spreadshop. “Watching orangutans in the wild is something very special. The mother-child relationship is one of the strongest in the animal world. The offspring learns everything necessary for an independent life from the mother in a matter of only about eight years.” But she also mentions some less-pleasing experiences, such as encounters with traumatized orangutan orphans whose mothers have been killed. “This unspeakable suffering cannot be put into words. Without our help, these animals would have no chance of survival in the wild,” said Julia Cissewski.
The lives of adult orangutans are also marked by the daily struggle for survival. Their situation has long been critical and is becoming increasingly dramatic. Unfortunately, the reasons here can be traced back to our consumer behavior. On the one hand, rainforests are being steadily decimated and sourced for tropical timber. On the other hand, the demand for raw materials such as palm oil – which is found in every other supermarket product – keeps increasing. Both factors have fatal effects on the rainforest, and in turn decimate the orangutan population. Markus Menke has intensively researched the consequences of palm oil production as project manager of the Replace PalmOil app, a barcode scanner for grocery products containing palm oil with a feedback function to the manufacturer. “Palm oil is the cheapest and most widely used vegetable oil in the world. Replacing it completely with other oils won’t solve the fundamental problem of overconsumption, since other vegetable oils also require cultivable areas that are often larger than those needed for the production of palm oil.“
The fate of the orangutans can only take a turn for the better if human behavior changes. The rainforest area that has been destroyed by our excessive overconsumption could be renatured if we were to put our consumption on a more sustainable track. This is the only way to protect the precious habitat of orangutans. And Orang-Utans in Not e. V., founded in 2007 by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, offers numerous opportunities to support private individuals and companies. On the association’s website, you will find all the information to become a sponsor or member, donate, and purchase merchandising products.
“Our Spreadshop has become an important source of funding for reforestation, reintroduction and education projects. All proceeds from our sales go completely into these projects. Through the shop, we also increase the visibility of our association, and our customers help us carry the message into the world,” says Julia Cissewski. Having become aware of the Spreadshop brand by a recommendation of another association in 2019, they particularly appreciate the fact that their own shop is 100 percent free of charge. All organizational tasks, such as the production of the articles, shipping, payment handling and customer service are taken over by Spreadshop. This is how Orang-Utans in Not e. V. can fully concentrate on the protection of orangutans.
Will we still be able to realize a turnaround in the treatment of the orangutan habitat? There are some positive signs. The natural habitat of orangutan is the rainforest, and the latter is at the core of climate protection. People are becoming more aware of the dramatic consequences of deforestation, not only because of the great apes in need of protection, but also in terms of climate change. Many people take to the streets in support of climate protection, and future generations will grow up with more a sustainable consumer behavior. And it is the target group of children and young people that the association’s educational events are aimed at, i.e. to elucidate that large-scale deforestation of tropical rainforests for the sake of palm-oil cultivation endanger orangutans. For the future of their association, Julia Cissewski and Markus Menke have a common wish: “We strive for a world in which associations like ours are no longer necessary, as people will have learned to adapt their actions to the environment – both on a global and local scale. We all need to assume responsibility for the world that surrounds us.”
• Spreadhop of “Orang-Utans in Not e. V.”: www.orang-utans-in-not.myspreadshop.de
• Instagram channel: www.instagram.com/orang_utans_in_not
• Twitter channel: www.twitter.com/OrangUtansinNot
• Facebook channel: www.facebook.com/ouin.org
• Contact for event inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com