Many consumer products sold in the U.S. are made from ramin, a wood that provides the habitat for the highly threatened orangutan. Rampant demand for ramin is decimating the orangutan's habitat to such an extent that Asia's largest primate could be extinct within the next twenty years.
Orangutan sanctuary Wanariset Samboja
From the Forest to the Crib
Ramin, a wood used for its decorative qualities and ease of crafting, comes exclusively from the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. Even though some areas are formally protected, they are subject to extensive illegal logging and overexploitation. Ramin is smuggled from Indonesia to Malaysia and then to manufacturers, eventually making its way to retailers like Wal-Mart and Target in the form of baby cribs, pool cues, venetian blinds and picture frames.
While the orangutan ("person of the forest" in Malay) is a protected species, ramin, its habitat, until recently, was not. According to experts, the primary threat to the survival of the orangutan is habitat destruction. And the threat is grave: Today, only an estimated 15,000-25,000 orangutans survive in the wild. According to experts, they could become extinct by 2011.