Orangutan Diplomacy: Balancing Conservation and Diplomatic Relations

Photo credit: Courtesy of PIXABAY

by Rahim Said

Using orangutans as a symbol of conservation through “orangutan diplomacy” raises complex ethical and practical considerations.

While the intention to demonstrate Malaysia’s commitment to biodiversity conservation is laudable, there are several implications to consider.

Firstly, using orangutans as diplomatic gifts could be seen as commodifying a species that is already endangered due to habitat loss, poaching and the palm oil industry itself. This approach may not align with the principles of conservation, which aim at protecting species from exploitation.

Secondly, offering orangutans as gifts could potentially send the wrong message about conservation efforts. It might imply that conservation is a transactional process rather than a fundamental responsibility to protect biodiversity for its intrinsic value.

Furthermore, there are practical challenges with this approach. Orangutans are highly protected under national and international laws, and any attempt to export or trade them would require adherence to strict regulations. Additionally, transporting and caring for orangutans would involve significant costs and logistical challenges.

Instead of using orangutans as diplomatic tools, Malaysia could focus on sustainable palm oil production practices and conservation efforts that protect orangutan habitats. Collaborating with NGOs and implementing transparent and environmentally friendly practices within the palm oil industry would better demonstrate Malaysia’s commitment to conservation.

In conclusion, while the concept of “orangutan diplomacy” may be well-intentioned, its practical implementation and ethical implications warrant careful consideration. True conservation efforts should prioritise the well-being and protection of endangered species like the orangutan without compromising their dignity or exploiting them for diplomatic and commercial gain.

Dr. Rahim Said is a human behaviourist and regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions. (The views expressed by our columnist are entirely his own)