The Indonesian government threatened to deport actor Leonardo DiCaprio after he made critical comments about the country’s palm oil industry. A well-known environmental campaigner, DiCaprio had posted photographs earlier in the week of the Leuser rainforest, mentioning that species such as the Sumatran elephant and orangutan are in danger because of palm oil plantations. The rainforest is the last place in the world where the elephants, Sumatran orangutans, tigers and rhinos all coexist in the wild, he said. An Instagram picture of a Sumatran organutan he had put up says, “If we don’t stop this rampant destruction, the Leuser Ecosystem and the Sumatran orangutans that call it home could be lost forever.”
The director general of Indonesia's Immigration office, Ronny Sompie, warned that the comments meant DiCaprio was in breach of visa rules. “He came in as a tourist, so wasn't entitled to make commentary”, said Inspector General Sompie. “We can use the immigration act towards foreigners who disturb our country's sovereignty,” he said, adding that his social media posts can be categorised as incitement or provocation. EcoWatch reported that the actor had already left the country, though.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of palm oil, providing about half the global supply of the commodity. It accounts for about 11% of the country’s export earnings and is an important part of their economy. However, a Greenpeace report said palm oil production contributed to deforestation of 25% of the country’s forest area between 2009 and 2011, and is a serious threat to many endangered species.