Indonesia Threatens to Ban Leonardo DiCaprio Over Palm Oil Criticism
In February during his Oscar acceptance speech, Leonardo DiCaprio told a television audience of 34 million that climate change was “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.” It’s a message the longtime environmental activist regularly sends to his 15.1 million Twitter and 5.4 million Instagram followers, with posts about everything from the retreat of glaciers to 2015 being the hottest year on record.
Now a series of posts DiCaprio uploaded this week that turned the spotlight on the environmental and wildlife destruction being caused by Indonesia’s palm oil industry have the actor under investigation by that nation’s government.
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DiCaprio, who was in Indonesia, has reportedly departed the country, according to EcoWatch.
“If DiCaprio’s posting in his social media can be categorized as incitement or provocation [against the government], we can blacklist him from coming back to Indonesia,” Heru Santoso, a spokesman for the director general of Indonesia’s immigration department, told BBC News on Friday.
DiCaprio, who arrived in Sumatra last week, posted a series of images on Instagram snapped in the rainforest in the island’s Leuser Ecosystem. The area is threatened because palm oil producers looking for more land to harvest African oil palm trees slash and burn the natural vegetation. While the smoke from the fires heavily pollutes the air across Southeast Asia, DiCaprio’s posts also point out that this activity has significantly endangered wildlife, such as Sumatran orangutans and elephants.
As the forest of the #Indonesian #LeuserEcosystem continues to be cleared to meet demand for Palm Oil, the critically endangered Sumatran #orangutan is being pushed to the brink of extinction. Here, at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s Orangutan Quarantine Center, rescued orangutans are rehabilitated so they can be released back into the wild. If we don't stop this rampant destruction, the Leuser Ecosystem and the Sumatran orangutans that call it home could be lost forever. Click the link in the bio to support this important work. #Indonesia
As the rainforest “is cleared to meet demand for Palm Oil, the critically endangered Sumatran #orangutan is being pushed to the brink of extinction,” wrote DiCaprio in the caption of a photo uploaded to Instagram on Thursday. “Here, at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s Orangutan Quarantine Center, rescued orangutans are rehabilitated so they can be released back into the wild. If we don’t stop this rampant destruction, the Leuser Ecosystem and the Sumatran orangutans that call it home could be lost forever,” he continued.
Two other photos the actor uploaded earlier in the week showed endangered Sumatran elephants and DiCaprio standing with a group of activists holding a sign that reads “Save the Leuser Ecosystem.”
A world-class biodiversity hotspot, the #Indonesian Leuser Ecosystem is one of the most important areas of intact #rainforest left in Southeast Asia. Its forests are home to the densest remaining populations of the critically endangered Sumatran #orangutan. But Palm Oil expansion is destroying this unique place. Now is the time to save the Leuser Ecosystem. We must develop a permanent solution to protect and restore this valuable natural asset. Click the link in the bio to stand up and #SaveLeuserEcosystem. #Indonesia
The lowland #rainforest of the Leuser Ecosystem are considered the world’s best remaining habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran #elephant. 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. Click the link in the bio to stand with @haka_sumatra as they fight to protect the Leuser Ecosystem. #SaveLeuserEcosystem #Indonesia
On Twitter on Tuesday, DiCaprio shared the snap of himself with the activists, along with the link to a petition demanding that Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo take action against the destruction of the ecosystem.
DiCaprio has offered no public comment about the statement from the Indonesian official. Meanwhile, according to his Instagram, his foundation, which focuses on environmental issues, plans to build a wildlife refuge in the Leuser Ecosystem.