Indonesia v DiCaprio: Actor facing ban after ‘provocative statements’ about palm oil

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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio could be banned from Indonesia after he criticized the “rampant destruction” of the country’s Leuser Ecosystem and fist-bumped an Orangutan.

During a one-day visit to Mount Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra this week, DiCaprio took to Instagram to show his support for the rainforest and disdain for the deforestation taking place there.

Describing it as “one of the most important areas of intact rainforest left in Southeast Asia,” the Oscar-winning actor blamed “palm oil expansion” for “destroying this unique place.”

The 41-year-old star of The Revenant also noted the “Sumatran orangutan is being pushed to the brink of extinction” and that if the “rampant destruction” isn’t stopped, the “Leuser Ecosystem and the Sumatran orangutans that call it home could be lost forever.”

The expansion of palm oil plantations “is fragmenting the forest and cutting off key elephant migratory corridors,” he went on to explain, ”making it more difficult for elephant families to find adequate sources of food and water.”

DiCaprio has said his foundation aims to establish a “mega-fauna sanctuary” in the Leuser Ecosystem to help tackle the issues, but his comments condemning the deforestation didn’t go unnoticed by Indonesian officials.

While a spokesperson for the government said they “support his concern to save the Leuser ecosystem,” they did not take kindly to his criticism.

"We can blacklist him from returning to Indonesia at any time if he keeps posting incitement or provocative statements in his social media," threatened Heru Santoso, spokesman for the Directorate General for Immigration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

DiCaprio isn’t the first actor to attract such threats from the Indonesian government.

Harrison Ford was told in September 2013 that he could be deported after he was accused of “harassing a state institution” for clashing with the country’s Minister of Forestry in the climate change documentary Years of Living Dangerously.

Palm oil, which is an edible vegetable oil, is found in numerous food products, detergents, and cosmetics with global production doubling over the last decade.

According to the World Wide Fund, it’s not only causing “large-scale forest conversion” and “loss of critical habitat for endangered species,” but can also “create social conflicts if the rights and livelihoods of local communities are ignored.”  

Collusion between private companies and the government has resulted in numerous companies being granted rights to such forested land in Indonesia, according to a decade-long study from Greenpeace.

With no central land registry in the country, there is "a mess of competing claims," the Guardian reported.