Borneo fights for it’s jungles

This week’s blog is slightly different and is from our guest blogger for this week Ellie Parker. Ellie has previously worked for ecodek as a Marketing Intern and has been travelling around Borneo on her gap year.

Borneo has some of the world’s most species-rich equatorial rainforests and Ellie has been travelling around the different parts of the country.

So without further ado I will hand you over to Ellie!


Before visiting Borneo, I imagined a country of untouched beauty, with small towns and lush scenery. Yet, what myself and my boyfriend experienced when we arrived was not what we were expecting.

Borneo’s rainforests are at the brink of extinction. I would even go as far to say that sustainability may no longer be a possibility for the Malaysian island’s natural world.

As we got onto our first public bus, we looked out of the window to see the rainforests suddenly cease to be, as they were then replaced by the sight of hundreds upon thousands of Palm oil plantations. The Palm oil trees spread out from acres for as far as the eye could see.

It broke my heart to think of the thousands of animals and ancient jungles, which once inhabited this place, which had been thrown under the carpet without a second thought; as if they were useless rubbish rather than vital ecological parts of our world.  Instead, the fertile soil, which the rainforests of old thrived off was being used to provide for the demand of the Palm oil. Palm oil is used everyday, everywhere, in every shop and every household in the developed world. People use it without thinking of the consequences of where this product has come from.

A sense of guilt and sadness suddenly overwhelmed me when looking out across the landscape of palm trees. This was because I felt like I had contributed to this demand, and consequently the destruction of rainforests. The effects of the destruction of the rainforests is monumental and the Government has only just realised in the past few years the potential that the jungles have, not only for the production of oxygen, the provision of habitats for rare flora and fauna but also for the provision of tourism, thus contributing to the GNP of the country. If only this had been realised sooner.

Rehabilitation centres for Orangutans and sun bears have been set up in Sepilok (outside Sandakan city in Sabah). The Orangutan centre was a fantastic example of the fight for sustainability for the wildlife of Borneo. However, these Orangutans should not have to be here. They arrive homeless, motherless and injured. All Orangutans which are brought to the centre are injured or orphans, due to deforestation or trafficking. These beautiful creatures have been victims of humans and we are their biggest threat. Our greed and lack of care for the environment around us has created this disaster. Furthermore, a staggering 750 Orangutans have had to be rehabilitated at the centre.

Check out these sepilok orangutans

I came across a sad situation when we visited the Sungai Kinabatangan River for a river cruise to see the jungle and the animals. The only reason, river cruises are situated in this location is because the surrounding Palm oil plantations have forced all the animals once living in the jungle to seek refuge on the river and on the strip of jungle on the river banks. I felt like I had in some way contributed to the demand of Palm oils, thus creating further reasons for more plantations, and ultimately was now visiting the results of this demand… animals with little habitat and jungles diminishing in size every year.

Views from the Sungai Kinabatangan river cruise.


Views of the Palm Oil Plantations.

I know this seems like my faith in humanity is dwindling, but there is a little bit of hope. Due to the high rates of tourism (100,000 tourists visit the Sungai Kinabatangan river a year) in Borneo the government has been encouraged by NGO’s and sustainability charities to create conservation areas, where the jungles are preserved and animals are cared for.

What must be remembered is that this is not happening just in Borneo, but all over the world. The need for sustainability is real and vital. Recycling has never been more prominent yet it needs to be expanded and built upon even more. Think before you buy. Think sustainably.

Our Feature photo included in this post is when Ellie visited Kinabalu National Park.


Has anyone ever visited Borneo and if so what area did you visit?   Leave us a comment in the comments field below.



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