Palm oil: One woman’s fight to save ‘the last place on Earth’

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Farwiza Farhan: Fighting to save Sumatra’s biodiversity

There is only one place in the world where orangutan, rhinos, elephants and tigers still co-exist in the wild.

Environmental activist Farwiza Farhan is fighting to protect this last wilderness, Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem.

In 2012, her NGO, Yayasan HAkA, sued an oil palm company that had cleared forest under an illegally issued permit.

She says she is driven by a sense of injustice that no-one is speaking up for the wildlife.

On the pristine tropical rainforest…

“Imagine standing under a very large canopy and you look up – you can hear hornbill whizzing past. And then you look around and you hear the sound of gibbons echoing through the forest, calling out their territories.

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Paul Hilton

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Large male Sumatran orangutan

“You see the orangutan – the mother and baby swinging from tree to tree – and amongst all this different wildlife you see all these different macaques screaming at you. But then from moment to moment, you get silence when you hardly hear anything, before the echo of the forest comes back to life.

“In the distance sometimes you can hear the sound of chain saws, you can hear the sound of destruction coming in closer. You know that there’s something you can do to prevent that from happening. You know there’s something you can do to stop the chainsaw from going deeper into the forest.

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