MEDIA ALERT: Orangutan rescue taking place in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest – RIGHT NOW!

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Orangutan rescue taking place in Tripa Peat Swamp Forest – RIGHT NOW!

[TRIPA – Aceh Province – Sumatra – INDONESIA]
A specialist team including orangutan vets and government staff, made up of members of SOCP (Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program) YEL (Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari) and BKSDA (Nature and Natural resource conservation agency of Indonesian Government) has just left the Tripa base camp (1000am 18/04/12) in two 4wd vehicles, and is heading into the forest to rescue and relocate an Orangutan who is trapped in a small pocket of protected forest surrounded by encroaching palm oil plantations.
The adult male orangutan has been identified as at high risk by the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest Field Team. The 1 hectare area he has been trapped in over the last months in no longer has the food to support his existence. For his immediate safety and survival he needs to be relocated to a larger forest area that can support his existence.
Relocating this orangutan is a last resort. There is always dangers involved when attempting to sedate and relocate which the specialist and experienced team will be working to minimize throughout the day. The palm oil companies are operating illegally in the area and need to immediately stop destroying the protected forests before the habitat and food source for the orangutans is completely gone.
full press release will be available as we receive updates from the team in the field 
This rescue coincides with a report on findings in Rawa Tripa released by the REDD+ Task Force being release highlighting the ongoing illegal activities in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest by palm oil companies. The press release from the REDD+ Task Force included. 

Orangutan Evacuation 18 April 2012 | Paul Hilton Photos

An adult male orangutan is tranquillised by officers from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) before being captured and relocated in Tripa forest. Tripa is home to the largest remaining population of endangered Sumatran orangutans. Although Tripa is recognised as an important peatland ecosystem, and is also covered by Indonesia’s moratorium on deforestation, these forests are being cleared for palm oil plantations.
Indonesia’s civil society coalition for forest protection, including Greenpeace, say the moratorium has been undermined by weak legislation and weak enforcement. It provides little extra protection for forests, carbon-rich peatlands, forest-dependent peoples and endangered species such as the Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran tiger and ramin tress that depend on the forests for their survival. © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

An adult male orangutan is captured for re-release after it’s home forest has quickly been cleared for palm oil plantations in Tripa, Aceh Province, 18 April 2012. The Tripa Peatswamp forest supports the highest density of Sumatran Orangutans anywhere on earth, but are still being cleared by palm oil companies who think they are beyond the reach of the law, the situation is urgent and requires action according to Dr Ian Singelton, Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. Photo: Paul Hilton

Orangutan Confiscation 18 April 2012 | Paul Hilton Photos

A 2 year old, orphaned orangutan named Rahul was confiscated from a small village on the edge of the Tripa peat forest, 20 April 2012. This is the second rescue this week highlighting the need for urgent action to prevent local extinction. The confiscation team and police arrived at the scene at 10:45am today and identified the young orangutan immediately, tied to a small shop. Specialist orangutan veterinarian drh Yenny Saraswati of the SOCP promptly conducted a health inspection of the young orangutan. ???The condition of this young male is not good, he is suffering from malnutrition, his skin is bad, and he has a wound from where he has been tied with a rope. We will provide medical treatment, monitor his condition, then release him in a healthy forest???. Photo: Paul Hilton/SOCP/YEL(HAND OUT IMAGE ONLY, EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

A baby orangutan was captured from an oil palm concession operating in protected Leuser Ecosystem, the orangutan was illegally kept as a pet and confiscated by the team from YEL, SOCP, BKSDA and Police force on April 20, 2012 in Babahrot sub-district, Tripa. The location of the confiscation borders the protected Leuser Ecosystem.

PRESS RELEASE : Investigation result from REDD+ Task Force in Tripa

Investigation Team of REDD+ Task Force
Report on Findings in Rawa Tripa

Jakarta – Towards the end of March 2012 the government of Indonesia was alerted over reports from the province of Aceh about deliberate and systematic attempts at land clearance through forest fires in a certain area of Rawa Tripa that appeared to be not only in direct violation of the two-year suspension or moratorium on new forest concessions but also included, more alarmingly, the deep peat land area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL) close to the Leuser National Park.

“The incident also resulted in national and international public outrage and concern at the wanton destruction caused to the ecosystem. This is based on the awareness on the importance of peatland conservation in prevention of disasters due to climate change that has negative impacts to mankind” said the Head of Presidential Work Unit for Supervision and Development Monitoring (UKP4) and Chairman of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency explained that Rawa Tripa is an important habitat for the protected and nearly extinct animal species which include Sumatran orangutan. In a short period of time, an online petition successfully collected almost 10,000 supporters who demanded that the government of Indonesia, in Particular President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Ministry of Forestry, the Head of Police Department of Indonesia as well as the Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, to take serious action in law enforcement and peatland protection in Kuala Tripa as well as protection of the orangutan within. Additionally, this petition was also addressed to the Ambassador of Normay and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.

The Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency has immediately instructed a holistic investigation to decide whether the land allocation has been made in accordance with the prevalent laws and governance systems, and to find whether the activities carried our by the plantation company is in line with the relevant national laws of the land. The finding of the investigation includes:

1. There is a forest fires in the area of PT. Kalista Alam (PT.KA) and PT. Surya Panen Subur 2 located in the area that is adjacent with the concession area of PT.KA. From a naked eye observation, it appears that the forest fire has been ignited in a systematic and well-planned manner causing direct negative effect to the ecosystem. In our opinion, this activity voilates Law number 18/2004 concerning plantation as well as Regulation of Ministry of Agriculture number 26/Permentan/OT140/2/2007 concerning Guidance of Plantation Business Licensing, and Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management.

2. We also found that the plantation area of PT. Kallista Alam (PT. KA) of 1.605 hectares is located in the Area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL). Some parts of the area have already been planted with Palm Oil and some are ready to be planted while some other parts are forested area. Hence, potentially, it will violate Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial Planning as well as Government Regulation number 26/2008 concerning National Spatial Planning.

3. According to UKL?UPL (Environment Monitoring Action/Environment Management Actions), the activity of PT. KA is located within thick peatland forbidden for development (from the 6 sampling points, the thickness of 2 sampling points are less than 3 meters, one point has 3 meters thickness and three other points have more than 3 meter thickness). We will need to scrutinize carefully whether 70% of the licensed area mentioned above contains peat deposit. If that is confirmed, then the activity voilates Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial Planning as well as Presidential Decree number 32/1990 concerning Protected Area Management and Regulation of Ministry of Agriculture number 14/2009 concerning Guidance of Utilizing Peatland for Palm Oil Cultivation.

4. There is a report that indicates that PT.KA has initiated activities in the area prior to the issuance of Permit for Plantation (IUP) and Cultivation Rights Title (HGU) by the authorized agency. In this regard, the images form satellite taken on June 11, 2009 show the clearance in the area of PT. KA had already taken place, and on the images from satellite taken on October 20, 2010 the land clearance is getting wider. This potentially violated Law number 18/2004 concerning Plantation and Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management, as well as Presidential Instruction Number 10/2011 concerning Moratorium on New License on Primary Natural Forest and Peatland and the attachment Indicative Map on Moratorium on New License (PIPIB)

5. From the facts mentioned in the four points above, a technical team of PIPIB has been established as part of the Presidential instruction Number 10/2011 which will include the area of PT. KA in the area of PIPIB in its second revision which will be published on May 20, 2012.

From the findings, the Head of Task Force for the Preparation of REDD+ Agency believes that there are indications of violations of laws as follow:
1. Law number 18/2004 concerning Plantation
2. Law number 32/2009 concerning Living Environment Protection and Management
3. Law number 26/2007 concerning Spatial planning as well as Presidential Decree number 32/1990 concerning Protected Area Management.

The head of the task force for the preparation of REDD+ Agency demands that the Ministry of Environment and the Head of the Indonesian Police conduct further investigation. Once legal evidence are found, he expects that the Ministry of Environment and the Police Department of Republis of Indonesia will take appropriate actions to bring a halt to these activities and to penalize and recover the loss caused by the ecosystem degradation in the Area of Leuser Ecosystem (KEL).

For further information please contact:
Chandra Kirana, Leader of WG on communication and stakeholder engagement

To download the press release in English: REDD+ Task Force Press Release

Untuk mengunduh dalam bahasa Indonesia : Press Release: Temuan Rawa Tripa oleh Satgas REDD+

Indonesia to Investigate Forest Concession

Indonesia to Investigate Forest Concession

The Environment Ministry has stated it will launch an investigation into the issuance of a plantation concession inside the Tripa peat swamp forest in Aceh province.

The ministry’s announcement came in response to findings by the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation forest carbon reduction task force.

On Friday, the government-formed task force said it had evidence that palm oil company Kallista Alam had violated regulations in turning the swamp forest into a plantation.

The task force recommended that the Environment Ministry and the police further scrutinize Kallista’s actions.

“We will investigate if the company has properly conducted an Amdal [environmental impact analysis] or has other environmental permits,” Sudariyono, the ministry’s head of law enforcement unit, said at a seminar in Jakarta on Monday.

Even if the company did have a permit, Sudariyono said, the ministry would look into whether it included right to operate inside the Tripa peat forest.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the REDD task force, said on Friday that Kallista had violated the regulation.

“Opening a plantation inside a protected swamp area has clearly broken the law,” he said.

After interviewing locals, the team was convinced that Kallista had used illegal slash-and-burn methods in order to clear the peat land, violating several laws on plantations and the environment.

“Based on eyewitness accounts, the burning has been systematically done,” Kuntoro said.

On April 3, an Aceh court threw out a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups against outgoing Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, who they alleged issued Kallista an illegal permit in August 2011.

The license allows the company to convert 1,600 hectares of the Tripa peat swamp forest into a palm oil plantation.

The forest was initially included in the government’s map of areas off-limits to forestry activities, published in May 2011, as part of a two-year moratorium on new forestry concessions in peat and primary forests.

However, a revised map issued in November dropped the Tripa forest from the protected zone. The plaintiffs in the suit argued that when Irwandi issued the permit in August, the revised map had not yet been published, meaning the area was still protected and the issuance was illegal.

The Banda Aceh State Administrative Court dismissed the groups’ lawsuit on a technicality, claiming that it was “not authorized to hear the matter.”

The coalition, which includes Indonesia’s largest environmental group Walhi and Greenpeace, said on Thursday that it had filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

Deddy Ratih, Walhi’s forest campaigner, said his group had filed an appeal with a higher court in the province.

“The area is critical to the conservation of rare species including orangutans, many of whom have died because of continuing fires there,” Deddy said.

He said satellite images showed more than 40 hot spots indicating fires in March as a result of land conversion in Tripa, located in northern Sumatra.

There were some 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans in the area in the 1990s, but only a few hundred are left today, Ratih said.

There are currently about 6,600 Sumatran orangutans in the wild.

Kuntoro, the REDD task force chief, is a close aide to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“That plantation is inside the protected forest. It’s strange they can get a permit. I suspect something behind the issue of the permit,” he said.

source: The Jakarta Globe

Faint ray of hope for Orangutans – Canberra Times

Faint ray of hope for orang-utans
Paul Malone
April 15, 2012
OPINION – Canberra Times

In 1997 fires in drained Indonesian peat swamps sent smoke billowing across South-East Asia and released more carbon into the atmosphere than the European Union generates in fossil fuel burning in a year.

The disaster was in part due to peat land deforestation promoted by former Indonesian President Suharto, who hoped to create a vast rice growing area in Kalimantan, Borneo. Instead, the land proved unsuitable for rice. Once lit, the fires were near impossible to extinguish, smouldering underground and periodically bursting to the surface to ignite forest fires.

It was a wake-up call to the world, and the United Nations moved to do something about it through the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries scheme. For its part, Australia initially undertook to rehabilitate forest in Kalimantan. It is now considering whether to undertake a second project in Sumatra.

The REDD program should have been win-win. Indonesia would get money to employ people to rehabilitate degraded land and preserve forests. The developed world would pay for a natural carbon store, the preservation of forests and the maintenance of habitats for wildlife.

But it has not worked like that. Forest destruction has continued.

Early this month a three-judge court in the Sumatran province of Aceh threw out a case seeking to stop the destruction of the 1600-hectare Tripa forest, home of one of the few remaining dense populations of orang-utans.

Environmentalists had sought to stop PT Kallista Alam from burning and clearing the peat swamp for a palm oil plantation. They claimed the company had a track record of dubious behaviour, with numerous complaints from local communities and illegal outbreaks of fire on land it managed.

The permit was granted on August 25 last year by the then Governor of Aceh, Dr Irwandi Yusuf. The environmentalists said the decision contravened a raft of laws and regulations, including the National Spatial Planning Law 26/2007 and Presidential Instruction 10/2011 which forbade any new permits on primary forest and peat land.

The decision also flew in the face of statements by the secretary-general of the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, Hadi Daryanto, who told the Jakarta Post last year that PT Kallista Alam’s permit was ”clearly a violation because the area in question is a peat forest”.

Dr Irwandi – who previously had a reputation as an environmentalist – has defended his decision in a bizarre way. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald he said it was ”morally wrong” but he had done it as a wake-up call to the international community over its failing climate change policies.

He was disillusioned with the REDD schemes and threatened to allow more burning if nothing changed. He denied claims by conservationists that 100 or more orang-utans had died when the company cleared forests, saying his inspectors viewed the area and found none there.

In response, the director of conservation at the Sumatran orang-utan conservation program, Dr Ian Singleton, said he could take Dr Irwandi into that Kallista Alam concession and find 10 orang-utan nests within 20 minutes. He said there had been at least 100 of the apes living in the concession that was destroyed.

Asked if the Indonesian government was disillusioned with the REDD scheme, a spokesman for the embassy in Canberra said, ”I haven’t heard anything to that effect.”

The president of the Australian orang-utan project, Leif Cocks, appealed to the Australian government to ask the Indonesian government to uphold its laws and prevent the destruction of the Tripa swamp. He said the problem with the current REDD development process was that it was like developing a fire management plan while the house was burning.

AusAID said the Australian government had clearly stated its support for Indonesia’s moratorium on new concessions in primary forests and peat land. Asked if there was any point in pumping money into Indonesia for environmental protection and rehabilitation purposes if authorities continued to destroy forests, AusAID said Indonesia had one of the highest rates of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Therefore, efforts to reduce this trend were just the beginning. Australia has been a major provider of aid to Indonesia in recent years. Since the Boxing Day tsunami hit Aceh in 2004 Australia has provided $2.39 billion in total aid, of which $46.2 million has been for climate change and the environment.

Australia embarked on the Kalimantan REDD project to rehabilitate 70,000 hectares of peat land in September 2007. The project progressed at an excruciatingly slow pace.

In May 2010 AusAID told The Canberra Times that work to begin blocking drainage canals to raise the water table and re-wet the peat was expected to begin ”later that year”.

But in November 2011, more than four years on from the launch of the program, AusAID was still only promising that work on canal blocking would ”soon start”.

In response to questions last week AusAID said more than 50,000 seedlings had now been planted and a further 1.4 million would be planted this year.

Trialling of canal-blocking methodology was underway and six small canals had been blocked.

Finalisation of an environmental impact assessment would allow larger scale blocking in the coming months.

Dr Irwandi’s permit grant has done irreparable damage to the environment but the good news is that in last week’s Aceh election he lost his bid for a new term as governor. In addition, an aide to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to have expressed concern about the court ruling clearing the governor’s action. It is to be hoped that increasing political pressure will see the country abide by its international agreements to preserve the environment.

GRASP Patrons Ask Indonesian President to Intervene to Save Orangutans

GRASP Patrons Ask Indonesian President to Intervene to Save Orangutans

Nairobi, April 13, 2012 – Characterizing Indonesia’s biodiversity as under “extreme threat,” the patrons of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) – Jane Goodall, Richard Leakey, Richard Wrangham and Russell Mittermeier – today sent a letter to the President of Indonesia asking him to halt the destruction currently underway in Sumatra and enforce laws that protect orangutans and their habitat.

The letter was sent to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in response to man-made fires in the Leuser Ecosystem that were set to clear rainforest for oil palm plantations through allegedly illegal permits.

To read the letter, click here.

Experts fear that as many as 300 orangutans could perish in the fires. The Sumatran orangutan is classified as critically endangered, and no more than 6,300 are believed to exist in the wild.

The fires have also damaged the region’s ecosystem. A 2011 report issued by GRASP and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called the Leuser Ecosystem as an “incredibly important area for conservation.”

The GRASP patrons, widely recognized as leaders in great ape conservation and research, have asked that President Yudhoyono suspend all agricultural activity in the region, enforce laws protecting orangutans and their habitat, and uphold commitments made through the Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes.

GRASP, a unique alliance comprised of member nations, conservation organizations, United Nations agencies, and private supporters, was created in 2001 to protect great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia.

For more information, please visit or contact

Orangutan Fate is Ours