ACADEMY AWARD, ACEH, ADRIAN BRODY, BORNEO, CHANGE.ORG, conservation, FISHER STEVENS, FOREST FIRES, GREEN ECO, GUNUNG LEUSER NATIONAL PARK, indonesia, leonardo dicaprio, LEUSER ECOSYSTEM, ORANGUTANS, PALM OIL, RAINFOREST, SOCIAL MEDIA, SUMATRA, sustainable
By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief
Leonardo DiCaprio found himself in a little hot water last weekend when visiting the Indonesian island of Sumatra, to raise awareness of the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem due to the manufacturing of palm oil. Posting messages to his 36 million social media followers, DiCaprio claimed that palm oil was destroying the Indonesian ecosystem, angering government officials who accused him of using his trip to undermine the palm oil industry and the Indonesian government.
As Heru Santoso, the spokesman for the Directorate General for Immigration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, said “We support his concern to save the Leuser Ecosystem, but we can blacklist him from returning to Indonesia at any time if he keeps posting incitement or provocative statements in his social media.”
DiCaprio and an entourage including actors, Adrian Brody and Fisher Stevens, arrived at Kualanamu Airport on the island of Sumatra on March 26. They entered legally with visas and immigration documentation, touring Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh and leaving the island a day later.
Uploading photos to his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, including a picture of him holding the hand of an Orangutan, DiCaprio used the hashtag #SaveLeuserEcosystem and linked to a Change.org petition titled ‘Save The Leuser Ecosystem, Save Our Planet!’
“Palm Oil expansion is destroying this unique place. Now is the time to save the Leuser Ecosystem. We must develop a permanent solution to protect and restore this valuable natural asset,” he wrote.
According to Palm Oil Investigations, orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo are facing extinction as palm oil companies clear their habitats using fire to make way for crops. In 2015 alone, forest fires destroyed five million acres of Indonesian rainforest, leaving orangutans starving, homeless, injured or dead, and approximately 5o die each week. In conjunction with the Orangutan Crisis Foundation, they have founded an urgent appeal, aiming to raise $1 million to assist teams on the ground as they work to protect the species.
As for DiCaprio, he has not yet been banned but could if palm oil companies demand this of the Indonesian Government. But if the Academy Award winning actor is anything to go by, this will not infringe on his passionate mission to save the planet.