The world is a richly varied and diverse place, and we think it should stay that way. In the Indochina region, stretching across tropical countries and covering a huge area of Asia, there is massive natural biodiversity. However, due to human activity; loss of habitat, poaching and pollution, many of the beautiful animals which call this region their home are sadly in decline.
If, like us, you love animals and want to see them survive and flourish, the best way to make an impact is to learn about those in need of our help, and to take steps to ensure they are protected.
Once the most widespread rhino in Asia, the Javan Rhinoceros was hunted to near-extinction in the 19th and 20th century. Now, there are only 60 of this noble species left in the world, making them critically endangered. Sadly, the last Javan Rhino in Vietnam was poached in 2010, so the entire population of this species now live in one small protected area in Indonesia, the Ujung Kulon National Park in Java.
These glorious creatures have one small horn and their skin folds over, giving them the appearance of having armored plating.
Because there are no Javan Rhinos in captivity and they exist in just one area of the world, the only way to help these critically endangered creatures is to support the national park in Indonesia. You could donate to the Rhino Foundation of Indonesia, who fund anti-poaching units and are working to expand the area in which these animals can live and breed.
Green sea turtles are among the most recognisable species in the world – though rarely seen on land, their range stretches as far as the southern coast of Alaska to Japan and throughout the Indian ocean. It takes between 20 and 50 years for these turtles to reach sexual maturity, and their favoured nesting sites include Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Sadly, pollution and urbanisation has been taking their toll on turtle hatchlings – the lights from homes and buildings confuse the little turtles, so they crawl towards the lights, rather than the ocean, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to predators.
Green sea turtles are named for the colour of their fat and cartilage, and their beaky little faces are much beloved. They grow to 3-4 feet across, and can weight up to 350 pounds.
These turtles are threatened by overharvesting, illegal trade, coastal development and bycatching (hundreds of thousands are accidentally caught in shrimp trawl nets and fishing gillnets each year). The WWF works to protect sea turtle habitats – you can support their efforts by symbolically adopting a turtle, or take a hands on approach by embarking on a turtle conservation tour.
The name orangutan comes from the Malay for ‘person of the forest’. This is because of the close relationship between orangutans and humans – indeed, these long-haired, orange primates are highly intelligent creatures who have tight family relationships. Orangutans have an impressive arm span – some males can stretch their arms up to 2 metres. This comes in handy as they spend most of their lives in trees, sleeping in leafy nests and using large leaves as shelter from the rain.
Because orang-utans only live in a few specific areas and are dependent upon forests as their habitats, they are very susceptible to the threats of deforestation and have lost over 80% of their habitat over the last 20 years.
One of the biggest threats to orangutans comes from an everyday substance that you might not even realize is in many of the products you use. Palm oil is in everything from shampoo to toothpaste to disinfectant spray; and because it is a highly profitable substance, palm oil farmers destroy huge swathes of the orangutans’ habitat to produce it. Sadly, thousands of orangutans are often killed in this process and even more when hungry, displaced creatures wander into nearby villages to find food.
Just because palm oil is vegan and vegetarian, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ethical – by avoiding products which use palm oil, or only using products which are certified sustainable palm oil you can help remove the incentive for farmers to destroy rainforest habitat in order to create farmland.
At Banana Tree we feel strongly about saving the orangutan. That’s why, since 2012, 25p of every Crispy Chicken with Mango & Sweet Lime Sauce bought in our restaurants goes to the Orangutan Appeal UK – an organization that helps rehabilitate orphaned orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan rehabilitation Centre in Borneo, Malaysia and release them back into the wild, and we have so far raised over £30,000 for this worthy charity. Give details of the charity
The pangolin may seem tough as nails – it’s covered in hard scales made of keratin, the same natural substance that our fingernails, a rhinoceros’s horn and bird talons are made of – but it’s the world’s most hunted animal. The ground pangolin got its name from the Malay for ‘rolling up’ – ‘penggulling’. This is because of the little creature’s defence mechanism, which involves rolling into a ball. Unfortunately, while this may defend against natural predators like tigers, it makes it easier for poachers to simply lift the animal up and take it away.
It’s estimated that over 100,000 pangolins are captured and killed every year to sell for their meat and scales. Pangolin scales are also used in some traditional Asian medicines, even though trading these critically endangered creatures’ meat is illegal.
The biggest threat to the pangolin is illegal trafficking, so the best way to help preserve these animals for the future is to offer aid to organisations like WWF and IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group who work to protect the species and prevent illegal poaching.
Until recently, red headed vultures were thriving across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and India, but an incredibly rapid population reduction means they are fast becoming extinct. This rapid decrease is attributed to the vultures feeding on the carcasses of animals which had been treated with the veterinary drug diclofenac, as well as other poisons used to catch fish and cause deforestation. People tend to care less about the extinction of less attractive animals, meaning these vultures are especially vulnerable and in need of help!
Black except for a bald red head, neck and leg with white thigh-patches and a white ruff, these striking vultures make a valuable contribution to the eco-system.
Spreading awareness of the red headed vulture’s plight is crucial for boosting the conservation effort – these under-serviced animals could easily slip underneath the radar. Support the The Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project here – they provide safe food for vultures to feed upon at several ‘vulture restaurants’ across the country.
These beautiful creatures are the smallest surviving subspecies of tiger – there’s as few as 400 left, and they’re now only found in the forests of the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia. Tragically, it is the tiger’s beauty and power that is its downfall – historically, tiger skin is believed to have magical protective powers and tiger parts are used as treatments for everything from rheumatism to impotence. Poaching is rife, despite a renewed conservation efforts and increased law enforcement – and deforestation is an ongoing threat to the few remaining wild tigers.
One of the smallest tiger subspecies as well as the most endangered, Sumatran tigers have a prominent ruff and a higher frequency of stripes than other tigers.
You can sign a pledge to prevent wildlife crime here, or donate to Flora & Fauna, who help save tigers by appointing rangers, increasing forest patrols and enforcing anti-poaching laws.
To celebrate International Tiger Day on the 29th of July, we are delighted to be partnering with Save Wild Tigers.
We want to help these wonderful creatures by offering all our customers a Tiger Beer for just £1, with proceeds* donated to Save Wild Tigers.
These are just a few of the incredible creatures facing extinction in the Indochinese region – so, if you visit, make sure you take your new awareness with you, and take a responsible attitude towards the items you purchase and the places you visit. And don’t think you can’t make a difference from home – by supporting the good work of these diligent charities and raising awareness of the plight of endangered species, you can help spark the conversations that bring about real change.
Ts&Cs: Only one Tiger beer at the discounted price per person, when a main course is purchased. Offer available for eat-in customers only. Offer subject to availability.
*Sale price minus VAT