Orangutans forced out

1 September 2008 General News

Source : INCL Editorial (Newsletter of September 1st)
Author : Contributor

The habitat of orangutans are shrinking. The orangutans are getting increasingly restricted to small forest fragments, the remaining areas that have not yet been converted to oil palm plantations. Its habit­at in the forests of Sumatera and Kalimantan are also suffering from illegal logging, mining, encroachment by palm oil plantations and fires. The trees in the forests, which have been the source of food and home of orangutans have been cut down and decreasing rapidly, despite that for orangutans, trees are the paradise of their life.

Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii are also being illegally traded. Ironically, this endangered species have been priced only between Rp 300,000- Rp 500,000 for a three-year old orangutan. It is almost the same price of a persian cat that can be easily found at local pet shops or animal markets. While o­n the contrary, to catch a baby orangutan, one must kill its mother, thus result to further loss of babies to be born in the mothers womb.

Explicit actions on the illegal trade of orangutan have not yet been optimal, though it has been clearly stated in Law No. 5 /1990 on conservation of natural resources and ecosystems that prohibits trading in protected animals. A­nyone convicted faces maximum imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to Rp 100 million. However, illegal trade of protected species often lack public attention.
Thousand hectares of dipterocarpaceae have been decreased and converted to oil palm plantations. Will the forest  forever become a place that restricts the orangutans' movements from hanging down from tree to tree? Moreover, the deforestation rate in Indonesia was said to be the highest in Indonesia, about 6 times the football field per minute. It has been estimated that in just 10 years time, half of the current forest areas will dissappear.

The greatest threats of orangutan are the availability of food and poaching. Nevertheless, saving efforts must be conducted continually, one of it is by rehabilitation activity. About 645 orangutans are currently being rehabilitated at the Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Center. The number tends to increase as poaching of orangutans still persists. From the total, averagely 80 orangutans should be released into the wild. However, since 1999, the organization have not released any orangutans due to the limited forest areas that ensure safety for orangutans to live in. Thus, the rehabilitation will likely be closed down in 2015, as stated by the Executive Director of BOS Foundation Aldrianto Priadjati to Kompas.

Will our grandchildrens' history books be filled with illustrations of orangutans being victims of forest conversions and human egotism? We certainly must analyse the cause of environmental degradation and the orangutans threat of extinction. Because they are holistic components in the sustainability of our future generation, and that freedom not only belongs to humans, but orangutans have also the right to live.

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