Leonardo DiCaprio was almost deported when he posted on social media about Indonesia's damaging palm oil industry.
Indonesia is a country whose economy is largely dependent on the production of palm oil, in which palm kernel oil is extracted from trees everyday of the year. The impact the palm oil industry has on the environment, both for the rainforest and its animal inhabitants, is devastating, and Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t want to just stand by and allow it to continue.
The Oscar-winner is an environmental campaigner who has been on a mission to save what’s left of Earth’s wild ecosystems for quite some time now. Through the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, he helps to implement solutions in damaged areas of the world to restore balance in the environment.
Since palm oil production has such dire effects on the environment, DiCaprio visited Indonesia, a producer of 35% of the world’s palm oil.
While in Indonesia on a mission for the foundation, the actor let it be known on social media what he was really there for. He posted this explanation on Instagram:
“In these forests, ancient elephant migratory paths are still used by some of the last #wild herds of Sumatran elephants. But the expansion of Palm Oil plantations is fragmenting the #forest and cutting off key elephant migratory corridors, making it more difficult for elephant families to find adequate sources of food and water. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is supporting local partners to establish a mega-fauna sanctuary in the Leuser Ecosystem, last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild.”
Apparently, this was not Leo’s stated purpose for visiting the country, so the government wasn’t too thrilled to hear about his social media posts.
Immigration director-general Ronny Sompie told Republika, “If there are statements that discredit the government and the interests of Indonesia, he could be deported.” He also pointed out that the actor’s tourist visa restricted him to taking “excursions” only, so if he was in violation of his visa “by engaging in activities that disrupt public order and harm the interests of Indonesia,” authorities were ready to deport him.
If the government really was being true to their word, it’s fortunate for Leo that he had already left the country by the time the government made the threats. His continuous posts about his time in Indonesia led officials to believe that he was still “touring” the country, when, in fact, he was already gone.
Palm oil production is rapidly increasing and harming the rainforests and the beautiful creatures that preside in them. The animals become vulnerable because of deforestation and they are cut off from resources as a result of this destructive industry. It’s estimated that these rainforests are being cleared at a rate of 300 football fields per hour, often killing animals or leaving them displaced in the process.
Palm oil is found in a wide-variety of products, from soap to chocolate to lipstick, and avoiding it when shopping can be tricky but is definitely possible. Avoid pre-packaged foods, foods whose saturated fat content makes up more than 40% of its total fat content, check the ingredients list to see if “palm” or “vegetable oil” (a common disguise) are anywhere in it, and use products derived from sunflower or canola oil instead.
You may pay more for palm oil-free products, but it’s a small price to pay when considering the impending extinction of some of the world’s most treasured animals.
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