Thursday, 20 March 2008

Live and Let Die

Appeared in the Jakarta Post, 18th March 2008


Dear Sir,

In December 2007 a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forestry told the Jakarta Post that since the 1970’s about 3000 orangutans had been killed every year.

Government departments when dealing with issues like this are notoriously economical with the truth, so it’s fair to say their estimate is likely to be on the low side. That’s about 100,000 orangutans and countless millions of other animals and birds sacrificed in the name of progress, or to be more precise – to make a few people very, very rich.

This begs the question: just when will President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
exert some real authority and bring a stop to this carnage? With only about 60,000 orangutans left, there’s no more time left for talk or new reports to be filed away along with numerous others collecting dust on government shelves. Action is needed, and now.

A good start would be for the government itself to immediately stop selling licences to palm oil companies permitting them to cut down rainforests and in doing so, kill orangutans – a legally protected species. Mr President the world is watching you. Do you really want to be remembered as the President who could have taken action to stop orangutans, Indonesia’s most famous and revered species, from becoming extinct, but who chose not to?

Is it also not about time your government began to enforce the Kinshasha Declaration for Great Apes, an agreement you entered into in 2005 but have so far totally ignored?
If you cannot be trusted to implement that Agreement, why should anyone trust anything you said in Bali last December?

Yours sincerely.

Sean Whyte
Chief Executive