Tuesday, October 4, 2011


     Jakarta, Oct 4, 2011 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is home to the world`s remaining population of critically endangered orangutans found on Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo) Islands.
      It is estimated that around 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans are left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia. Of the total number, about 7,300 orangutans are to be found in Aceh Darussalam and North Sumatra provinces, and many others in Central, West and East Kalimantan provinces.
       Central Kalimantan is considered as "the orangutan capital of the world" with more than 50% of all wild orangutans living there.
       There are two genetically distinct species of orangutan, namely the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus).
       The two species show slightly different physical characteristics. Sumatran orangutans have lighter hair and a longer beard than their Bornean relatives, and Sumatran males have narrower cheekpads. Both species are highly endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.
      The Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan are classified by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Endangered and Critically Endangered respectively, with the population of Sumatran orangutans down by 91 percent since 1900.
      The survival of the great apes very much depends on their habitat, namely the tropical rainforests on the two islands.
     Indonesia has a total forest area of approximately 137 million hectares, the world`s third largest after Brazil`s and Congo`s.

The wonders of the animal world such as Sumatran tigers, rhinoceros, orangutans, and komodo dragons can be found in Indonesian jungles.

The forests also host among other things roughly 12 percent of the world`s mammals, 16 percent of its reptiles and amphibians and 17 percent of all bird species. Over 10,000 species of trees have been recorded across the archipelago.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in its latest report said conserving key rainforests in Indonesia could generate revenues three times greater than felling them for palm oil plantations.

"In doing so, such actions can also deliver multiple Green Economy benefits from combating climate change, securing water supplies and improved livelihoods while throwing a life line to the world`s remaining populations of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans," the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a press statement quoting a new report made at the request of Indonesia from UNEP under its Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).

The new report launched in Jakarta in late September 2011, estimates that many of the coastal, peat-rich forests of Sumatra, where dense populations of the last 6,600 orangutans survive, may be worth up to a present value of $22,000 a hectare at current carbon prices (range $7,420-22,090).

The Indonesian government has announced its commitment to promoting green economic policies including by preserving its forests and protecting wildlife living in the jungles.

To protect the endangered "Red Man of the Jungle" (orangutans), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched the "Indonesian Orangutan Conservation Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2017" book on the sidelines of the U.N Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007,

"The fate of the orangutan is a subject that goes to the heart of sustainable forests - To save the orangutan we have to save the forest," the head of state said.

A core target of the plan is to stabilize orangutan populations and habitat from now until 2017. Other goals of the plan are to return orangutans currently housed in rehabilitation centers to the wild by 2015 and to ensure that government and businesses follow established and developing guidelines on orangutan conservation.

The Orangutan Action Plan, which is the basis of activities to conserve orangutans in Indonesia, requires all companies with a stake in the management of orangutans to support actions for their protection, management and conservation.

"In the last 35 years about 50,000 orangutans are estimated to have been lost as their habitats shrank. If this continues, this majestic creature will likely face extinction by 2050," said President Yudhoyono at the launch of the document.

Despite the action plan and many environmental regulations, the number of orangutans has continued decreasing.

In Kalimantan, for instance, the population of orangutans declined 1.5 to two percent a year as their habitats were depleting, Head of the West Kalimantan Nature Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Djohan Utama Perbatasari said in Pontianak, West Kalimantan Province, on September 13, 2011.

In East Kalimantan Province, police have set up a team to investigate recent information on alleged killings of tens of orangutan at Puan Cepak village, Muara Kaman sub district, Kutai Kartanegara District, during the 2009-2010 period.

Kutai Kartanegara Police Chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner I Gusti K.B Harryarsana said in Samarinda last month said his office and the local BKSDA had made coordination for the investigation.

Puan Cepak Village Head Kadir confirmed to ANTARA last September about the killings.

"It had happened about two or three years ago, before I became village head. The report on the orangutan killings has been known by Puan Cepak villagers," Kadir said.

He suspected that oil palm plantations were behind the tragedy. Orangutans are often considered as pest by plantation companies.

The East Kalimantan BKSDA chief, Tandya Tjahjanam, however, could not confirm about the report on the alleged orangutan killings few years ago.

The forestry ministry`s Director General for Forestry Protection and Conservation Hartono in Jakarta recently said he did not have exact information about the orangutan killings.

"I don`t know exactly because I just heard about it from colleagues in the field. I have not received a written report," he said.

The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) has urged the forestry ministry and legal enforcers to investigate the report.

"We urge the forestry ministry to impose law enforcement against the killings of orangutans which have been seen as pests in oil palm plantations," COP Campaigner Hardi Baktiantoro told ANTARA on September 28, 2011.

Without legal enforcement the killing would continue, he said.

"But we find imperfect system of the Ministry of Forestry, which is there is no law enforcement. Without the law enforcement, I will say sorry, the cruelty to orangutans will still continue. The Action Plan documents will not help orangutans.

The evacuation is only temporary, it is an effort to avoid orangutan from a murder. This is not a permanent solution. The reintroduced orangutans will be only killed by hunters or forced to be evacuated again, if the law enforcement is not running well," Hardi said as quoted on the COP website. ***4***

(T.F001/A/F001/B003) 04-10-2011 23:44:36

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