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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Filmmaker's heart-wrenching documentary shows tragic final hours of orangutan's life as her rainforest home is ruthlessly destroyed

By Chris Parsons

Lifeless: Green lies on a mattress at a rescue centre, where filmmaker Patrick Rouxel said she was 'dying of sorrow'

Lying on her back helpless and dying, Green the female orangutan is a picture of sadness as she faces her final hours.

The tragic female ape has been confined to a mattress inside a shack after her rainforest home was logged and burned to the ground through ruthless deforestation.

She clutches at her pillow and sits lifelessly on her mattress, defenceless as the lush Indonesian ecosystem she called home is destroyed, leaving her homeless.


Tragic: Green the female orangutan appears to be plucked from the mud in Sumatra, Indonesia, after deforestation left her without a home

Homeless: Ruthless deforestation in Indonesia is thought to have destroyed 70 per cent of the country's forest cover since the 1950s

Later on in the heart-breaking film, rescue centre workers carry a body bag away from the room where Green saw out her last few days, highlighting her as the latest victim of deforestation and palm oil plantations.

Her plight was filmed as part of a poignant 48-minute feature film by Patrick Rouxel, who obtained footage in Indonesian national parks to show the extent to which he believes deforestation is 'raping our planet'.

Mr Rouxel's incredibly moving film aims to show how the timber, pulp and paper and palm oil industries, along with general consumerism, are combining to ravage natural resources worldwide.

The footage of Green's final days and hours is interspersed with shots of trees being hacked down in Sumatra, Indonesia, along with shots of the wood products which result from the widespread deforestation.

Defenceless: Green had been rescued from a palm oil plantation and taken to a hospital, but could not be saved

Makeshift home: Green lies helpless on her mattress at a rescue centre in Kalimantan, Indonesia, just days before she passed away

Filmmaker Mr Rouxel took footage of Green for three days, but sadly there was nothing that could be done to save her after she was left paralysed down her left side.

Rescued: Part of the heart-wrenching film shows Green being hauled from the mud after hanging on to one of the last Sumatran rainforest trees during deforestation

In one particularly distressing segment, Green lies on the muddy floor helpless, the tall trees which were normally her natural habitat having been hacked down.

The film then shows her being packed into a large rucksack and driven away on a pickup truck.

Mr Rouxel said Green was taken to orangutan refuge in Kalimantan, Indonesia, after being rescued from a palm oil plantation several days previously.

The filmmaker told Al Jazeera Green had suffered an intracerebral haemorrhage, leaving her paralysed on the left side of her body.

He the filmed Green at her bedside for three days, culminating in a haert-wrenching final shot where the mattress on which she slept is seen empty.

Mr Rouxel, who has previously worked as a cameraman for Greenpeace and the WWF in Indonesia and Africa, received critical acclaim for his moving film.

Ravaged: Experts believe around 2 million hectares of forest cover are burned down or logged in Indonesia each year

Decline: Estimates show that around 160 million hectares of forest cover existed in Indonesia in the 1950s

However, this image, taken in 2009, shows how rampant deforestation in the area has taken its toll

The film, which has no human commentary at all, received over 35 international awards at various wildlife film festivals.

Mr Rouxel himself, who is half Swedish and half French, told Al Jazeera Green was taken to a hospital after being rescued, but 'died of sorrow' because she had 'lost everything'.

Indonesia is said to have one of the world's worst deforestation rates, averaging at around 2 million hectares a year.

The process expanded in the 1970s following greater demand from the timber and palm oil industries.

Experts believe that although forest cover in Indonesia in the 1950s was around 160 million hectares, today less than 48 million remain.



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