Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Wildlife rescue center in dire food shortage

Personal note: An almost identical situation to one Hardi and I discovered a long way from this centre, on the island of Sulawesi, where many birds and animals were/are dying of starvation………..in a purpose built Gibbon Foundation rescue centre which is otherwise vastly superior to any zoo in Indonesia. Just a shame the animals are dying like they are, almost always in areas where food is otherwise plentiful and cheap.


Theresia Sufa , The Jakarta Post , Sukabumi | Tue, 04/28/2009

The screeches of gray long-tailed monkeys and Javan gibbons responding to each other shattered the silence at the Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Center (PPSC) in Sukabumi regency, West Java.

The center, located in a 14-hectare sanctuary in Cikananga village, Nyalindung district, was set up on Aug. 27, 2001 by a wildlife conservation NGO.

Budiharto, the center's wildlife manager, said the center had been built to assist the government in the rescue and conservation of wild animals and their habitat, as well as boosting efforts to uphold enforcement of wildlife protection laws.

"Some of the animals accommodated here came from the various species seized from the public by staff of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency *BKSDA*, while others were voluntarily given up by society. We're taking care of them and training them before releasing them to their natural habitat," Budiharto said.

According to Budiharto, the center now has 296 animals of 40 species, including Javan hawk eagles (Spizaetus bartelsi), mountain eagles (Spizaetus alboniger), gray long-tailed monkeys (Trachypithecus cristatus), Javan gibbons (Hylobates moloch), tailless gibbons (Symphalangus syndactylus), honey bears (Helarctos malayanus), orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), and long-necked tortoises (Chelodina siebenrocki).

They are animals native to Indonesia whose populations in the wild are greatly endangered.

The animals in the center, however, are in very poor condition because of a food shortage that began when a foundation that worked with the center discontinued funding for food in 2006.

"Actually, the arrangement was due to end at a specified time after a period of five years, but even before the term expired the foundation had ceased providing aid for animal feed," Budiharto said.

"We got into a panic because there were 1,000 animals under our care with large numbers of carnivores and primates were to be fed."

To ward off any further worsening food crisis, the center's 14 employees worked hard to secure food supplies by seeking help from their friends working with chicken breeding farms in Sukabumi to get chicken meat.

The center also rents out guesthouses within its compound at rates ranging from Rp 20,000 (about US$2) to Rp 150,000 per night, but few people stay there apart from students or researchers studying certain species on this rescue site.

"We had to search for chicken meat from several friends as we needed it badly to feed panthers, crocodiles and various eagle species, while also trying to produce brown sugar for sale. The money we made was spent on fruit and vegetables for the primates," Budiharto said.

"Yet whatever we collected, it was never enough to meet the rescue center's needs. So they got fed only once daily, but occasionally they went without food for days."

Finally, in August 2008, the center received aid from Biofarma, a pharmaceutical company in Bandung, to the value of Rp 5 million a month to purchase feed for the center's 10 primates. In early 2009, the center reached an arrangement with a Jogya department store and Tiara supermarket in Sukabumi to get hold of other foodstuffs.

"The two major stores supply animal food whenever their vegetables, fruit or meat go past their shelf life, perhaps slightly rotting. It's also a sign of their concern about conservation issues," Budiharto said.

"We hope more department stores will follow in their footsteps, and the government will extend aid because all of the center's animals belong to the state and should be protected."

He also hopes that members of the public "adopt" the animals in the center to give them better care; food costs range from Rp 150,000 to Rp 2 million.

A leopard costs Rp 2 million per month to feed, a reptile Rp 150,000, an orangutan Rp 1 million, and a bear Rp 600,000.

Unu Nitibaskara, head of the West Java BKSDA, said the government allocated funds to feed the animals two years ago.

"But because the center could not account for its funding spending as required, such as by delivering receipts, the aid was finally halted. We will submit another request for government aid although it may take a year to obtain the subsidy," he said.

"I hope the center's wildlife adoption program will proceed smoothly."

With regard to the time limit for the care and training of endangered species in the center, Unu explained there was no fixed standard for such custody, although some requirements have to be met: The habitat for animal release should be made ready, the animal should be healthy and not carry hepatitis, the animal's existence in its natural habitat should be well protected, and local people have no objections, in order to avoid conflict arising later.