Saturday, 7 February 2009

Apocalypse Now: Who’s Responsible For Our Wildlife?

Apocalypse Now: Who’s Responsible For Our Wildlife?

The Jakarta Globe

February 7, 2009OOGLE

Opinion / Letters / Article

I am writing concerning your article on Feb. 1, 2009, by Arti Ekawati, “Perhutani Favors Lifting Ban on Teak Exports.”

If this ban was introduced to help combat illegal logging, what has now changed that makes Forestry Minister Kaban believe such logs can be exported within the law? Kaban is already on public record as showing his personal sympathy and support toward illegal loggers — quite why, one can only imagine — but this alone makes it hard to trust him when he shows such enthusiasm for shipping more of Indonesia’s natural heritage to far-off lands such as Japan.

And how can it be possible that the Ministry of Forestry, responsible as it is for selling off forests to the highest bidder, can also be responsible for protecting wildlife in the very same forests? If this is not a conflict of interest, what is? Millions of animals have died at the hands of the Ministry of Forestry. Hardly a day goes by without news of more forests being felled illegally, protected wild animals being killed or traded. Tens of thousands of orangutans alone have been killed on Kaban’s watch.

Would it not be more logical if the responsibility for taking care of Indonesia’s unique wildlife fell under the State Ministry for the Environment? If so, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will need to act fast, while there is still some forest and wildlife left to save. It’s time for someone to step up and take responsibility for Indonesia’s rapidly disappearing forests and wildlife.

Sean Whyte,
Nature Alert chief executive