MINISTRY OF FORESTRY SHOWS NO CONCERN
FOR ORANGUTAN PROTECTION
to be released November 12, 2009
Jakarta - Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP).
Just as orangutan supporters all around the world are celebrating Orangutan Awareness Week with bazaars, rallies, exhibitions, and other events to build up public support for saving orangutans, these very same orangutans are being chased down and murdered in Kalimantan as a direct impact of deforestation and land clearing for oil palm plantations.
“Public awareness has risen fast. Tens of thousands of people worldwide have joined together in supporting various orangutan conservation organizations. COP has been working with nearly 3000 supporters who are sincerely committed to volunteering or donating tools and funds to help orangutans. Efforts to protect orangutans are proving very difficult, however. The Ministry of Forestry’s concern for this important issue is almost ZERO. Despite the fact that many actions have been taken in the field to promote orangutan conservation, the Ministry refuses to hear us out. If they truly wanted to do so, the Ministry of Forestry could use its authority to stop the clearing of the orangutans’ habitat and to allocate forests to release them back into the wild,” said Hardi Baktiantoro, Orangutan Campaigner.
At this very moment, there are at least 1,200 orangutans stuck in various Rehabilitation Centers-- without any clear future. Land surveys to release them have been conducted, but it is almost impossible to find safe land because almost every remaining forest has been sold to palm oil and timber companies. In the meantime, orangutans are victimized on a daily basis due to the non-stop deforestation. The genocide is taking place everyday—yet not a single person responsible for the destruction has been taken to court and held accountable. The Minister of Forestry is not doing a single thing to fulfill his responsibility and put an end to the crimes and cruelties being perpetrated in the forest.
The Ministry of Forestry’s complete lack of concern has not only threatened the continuity of the life of orangutans and millions of other Indonesian species, but also the life of many Dayak tribes in Kalimantan.
“I came to Jakarta to call on the President of the Republic of Indonesia and make him aware that our forest is almost gone due to the heavy destruction being carried out by PT Nabatindo Karya Utama and PT Windu Nabatindo Lestari. The forest gives us life. If it is destroyed then what will we eat? Should we work as laborers for the company who has taken the land we used to own?” asked Christopel Sahabu, a senior member of a Dayak tribe from Sampit, Central Kalimantan.
Christopel Sahabu and his family have been cultivating the forest in Tumbang Koling village, Kotawaringin Timur Regency, since 1972. At this very moment, palm oil and timber corporations have put up signboards showing a new path for excavators to flatten the forest. Orangutans and 11 other types of rare mammals that are protected by the Law-- including sunbears, gibbons, clouded leopards, slow lorises and tarsius-- will be massacred within days if the Ministry of Forestry does not take any measures immediately to stop it.
A similar situation is occurring along the Katingan River in Kasongan Regency, Central Kalimantan. The lives of at least 1,500 orangutans and the food and water of 5,000 inhabitants of Tumbang Tura, Tumbang Tanjung and Tumbang Lahang villages are being threatened by the expansion of 15 palm oil companies, including Makin Group and TSH Berhad from Malaysia. In the vicinity of Gunung Palung National Park in Central Kalimantan, the Centre for Orangutan Protection had to evacuate orangutans from the forest destroyed by the companies PT CUS and First Resources Ltd.
Orangutans are the only Great Apes in Asia, and they are fully protected under Indonesian Law. They receive an exceptional amount of attention from animal lovers around the world, yet the Ministry of Forestry’s complete lack of concern has pushed these peaceful, innocent orangutans to the brink of extinction. Where is the justice?
“If this is the best we can do to the closest kin of humans, then what will we offer to millions of other species?” asked Hardi Baktiantoro, in the street protest with the Dayak indigenous people in the Jakarta. Take note: The villagers are wearing traditional costumes and dancing the war dance.