Endangered Elephants to Mandarin: I'd Rather Stay At the Ritz

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Photo by Forest Heroes. Front photo by Heri Juanda

The luxury international Mandarin Oriental hotels offer guests the finest amenities, from wellness spas and French cuisine to marble bathrooms and Dynasty Suites, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars per night - and untold destruction of rainforest, natural habitat and the endangered Sumatran elephant in Indonesia by its parent company in the name of palm oil profits. A new campaign by Forest Heroes and other advocacy groups dubbed "She's Not A Fan," a play on Mandarin's "She's A Fan" celebrity ads, seeks to pressure the companies to adopt deforestation-free palm oil production, as many other companies have, before it's too late.

The campaign seeks to expose the connections between Mandarin and its owner, the multinational congolomerate Jardine Matheson, which is the parent of Astra Agro Lestari, a palm oil company that has reportedly cut down 14,000 hectares of Indonesian forest since 2007 for palm oil plantations and over 27,000 hectares of carbon-rich peatlands,  causing about two million tons of pollution, or about the same as annual emissions from 830,000 cars. The campaign also charges that some of Astra’s plantations have been built on top of indigenous lands and that they plan a new palm oil mill in the middle of Sumatran elephant and tiger habitat in Aceh. The elephants are already critically endangered; there are said to be fewer than 3,000 left in the world. Forest Heroes has been holding protests at Mandarin Hotels, featuring activists in elephant costumes, to publicize the practices. They also took drone footage of the devastation already wrought. It's true: A picture is worth etc. 

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