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Orangutans, palm oil and Happy Horizons

Written by Anne on September 9th, 2021.      0 comments

Orangu-tan: The man of the forest

As you will have seen on our home page, we have a beautiful photo of three Orangutans. We specifically chose orangutans as they are an iconic species of the rain forests of South East Asia. Orangutans are the closest relatives to humans, having 97% of DNA in common.

Their habitat, ie the rain forest has suffered severe deforestation to meet the growing global demand for palm oil.  Every hour 300 football fields of precious remaining forest is being ploughed to the ground across South East Asia to make way for palm oil plantations.  It is estimated that almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years:

Imagine if this was our environment and over the last 40 years, 60% of Aotearoa became uninhabitable for humans due to the wants of another species. This is equivalent to the whole of the South Island and some!  In the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil.

Orangutans are a protected species but their home isn’t.  Apart from the obvious impact from deforestation and clearing of the land for pulp paper and palm oil plantations, the remaining forest is then degraded by drought and forest fires.

This puts orangutans in a precarious position. Another risk that they face is poaching, as mothers are killed so their babies can be sold into the pet trade.  The Borneo orangutan and Sumatran orangutan are critically endangered. In 1997 the discovery of a third species was announced, and in 2017  it was officially named the Tapanuli orangutan. This is the rarest of all the great apes. It is estimated that 800 remain and live in an area of 475 square miles in Sumatra.

This makes you think that if an animal the size of an orangutan (up to 100kgs), was discovered as recently as 1997, what else has not been discovered?

At Happy Horizons we have a lifelong respect for the natural world. Pat has studied zoology at tertiary level and Ecology, Animal Behaviour and Primatology at post-graduate level. I was fortunate enough to grow up near Chester Zoo in Cheshire, UK. I have been to this zoo many times and as a youngster saw the great range of animals they had there. These visits are one of the things that fired my passion for all things nature. Chester Zoo has a focus on education and preventing extinction. It was one of the first zoos in the world to move away from cages for animals and instead have moats and ditches. It was the first zoo in the world to implement a tuatara breeding programmes outside of Aotearoa. The zoo also has an orangutan breeding programme and on 19th June 2021 Emma, a Sumatran orangutan gave birth.

So what does all this have to do with the products from Happy Horizons?

Palm oil is an amazing product. It is so amazing, that many of the products that you regularly purchase from food to skin and body care products and much more contain palm oil or its derivatives. It is “sustainably” produced in pockets, but this does nothing to address the enormous demand for palm oil, which is the real issue driving the deforestation. So it is important that we work together to reduce the demand.  Sadly,  there are some loopholes in the criteria for certifying ‘sustainably produced’ palm oil, so we believe the only choice is to avoid it altogether.


How will you know if a product has palm oil in it?

This is tricky as palm oil and products derived from palm oil have over 200 different names. Visit this link to up skill yourself

What do Happy Horizons do?

At Happy Horizons we carefully source the ingredients that we use. We guarantee that our products are absolutely free of palm oil and all palm oil derivatives. We source the purest ingredients that it is possible to find. Further to this, the botanicals that we use we grow ourselves. This approach brings the finest products to you and you can be safe in the knowledge that the habitat of the orangutans is not impacted by Happy Horizons.

We have adopted an orangutan, appropriately named Happi. See photo above. We would like you to help us ‘adopt’ as many rescued organutans as possible: $1 from every shampoo and toothpaste you buy online will go to:, and we’ll put up regular updates on our blog page and FB.