Tag Archive | Borneo

IAR March 2013 Orangutan Rescues

Orangutan Outreach has been partners with International Animal Rescue (IAR) since 2009. The orangutans of West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) now have a safe haven at IAR’s Orangutan Rescue Center in Ketapang. There, they are cared for and rehabilitated by trained professionals until the day comes when they can be released into a safe forest or island sanctuary.

Fears over Indonesia’s thirst for palm oil

Phys.org

The roar of chainsaws has replaced birdsong, the once-lush, green jungle scorched to a barren grey. The equivalent of six football pitches of forest is lost every minute in Indonesia.

Tanjung Puting Nat Park – Orang Utan, Proboscis Monkey Camp Leakey –

The disappearance of the trees has pushed thousands of animals—from the birds they harbour and sustain to orangutans, gibbons and black panthers—out of their natural homes and habitats.

They have been replaced by plantations that are too nutrient-poor to support such wildlife, instead dedicated solely to producing fruit that is pulped to make oil used globally in products ranging from food to fuel.

A palm oil tree can yield useable fruit in three years and continue doing so for the next 25 years. But such wealth creation has meant environmental destruction. “We don’t see too many orangutans any more”, said a worker with a weather-beaten face, taking a break in the shade of a hut built on a path gouged out of the forest floor.

Experts believe there are about 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 80 percent of them in Indonesia’s Borneo and the rest in Malaysia. Exact data on their decline is hard to come by, say primatologists. “What we see now is a contest between orangutans and palm oil for a home,” said Sri Suci Utami Atmoko from National University in Jakarta. “You can judge that the population is depleting from the loss of orangutan habitats.” Gibbons, often recognisable by the rings of white fur that frame their faces, are among the hardest-hit species. “There are 100,000 gibbons in Borneo. But in 15-20 years, there will be more viable populations,” said Aurelien Brule, a French national based in Borneo for 15 years who runs an animal sanctuary. Gibbons rescued from the destruction of their forest homes cannot be returned alone into new wild habitats. “Other pairs protecting their own territory would kill them,” said Brule, adding that rampant deforestation has wiped out sites suitable for single animals. Enlarge A bulldozer that is used in clearing forest land for palm oil plantations in Borneo. The roar of chainsaws has replaced birdsong, the once-lush, green jungle scorched to a barren grey. The equivalent of six football pitches of forest is lost every minute in Indonesia. There is also a human cost, with the permits for plantations resulting in the eviction of indigenous people.

Abdon Nababan, the secretary general of AMAN, an Indonesian indigenous peoples alliance, said there is no exact data but recorded cases of land conflict are in the hundreds, with thousands of people possibly affected. “Palm oil has brought fortune to Indonesia, but it has been gained with blood,” said Jakarta-based forest campaigner for Greenpeace, Wirendro Sumargo. Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, has exponentially increased the land dedicated to the commodity from 274,000 hectares (680,000 acres) in the 1980s to 7.32 million hectares in 2009, government documents show. The industry has helped push Indonesia’s GDP growth rate above 6.0 percent every year since 2005, but at the cost of huge tracts of rainforest. An area roughly the size of Denmark was lost between 2000 and 2010 across Indonesia and its neighbour Malaysia, according to a study published last year in the Global Change Biology journal. Despite some backlash around the world, including an unsuccessful attempt in France to push an amendment to quadruple tax on palm oil to discourage consumption—the destruction is unlikely to stop any time soon. Indonesia, which together with Malaysia holds 85 percent of the market, aims to increase production more than 60 percent by 2020. To appease environmental concerns, it last year imposed a moratorium on new permits in primary forests and peatlands. But critics say it is a cosmetic move, with plantations overlapping sensitive environments. One example can be found in the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest, in the northwest of Aceh province, home to endangered species such as Sumatran rhinos and tigers. In this area, “we have evidence that five palm oil firms are doing illegal practices”, said Deddy Ratih, forest campaigner for WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia. Derom Bangun, the chairman of umbrella organisation the Indonesian Palm Oil Board, doesn’t deny the issue but says improvements are being made. “The government has seen (the violations) and has taken steps to fix it. Ultimately we want the palm oil industry to work according to the rules,” he added. In an effort to improve their image, some palm oil firms have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a forum consisted namely of green groups and growers. The WWF, one of the founders of RSPO, admitted that there is still a conservation shortfall. “Generally land allocation for plantations still overlaps with primary forests and peatlands, including in areas that are the habitat of key species,” said Irwan Gunawan, WWF deputy director of market transformation in Indonesia. “We are encouraging the government to pay attention to this,” he added.

The orangutan population is on the brink

 

John Blackstone | CBS News

watch the video here

(CBS News) The natural home of the orangutan is the leafy rain forests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, but development has devastated their numbers. There are less than 30,000 of the species left today.

Orangutans can fill us with wonder partly because they are so much like us.

But two of the orangutans at the Oregon zoo, 52-year old Inji and 18-year-old Kutai, are part of a species fast disappearing.

“All of the apes are endangered but orangutans, I think, are at a critical point right now,” said Jennifer Davis, who runs the Oregon zoo’s primate program.

She recently wanted to see their plight first-hand in their most important habitat.

“So I flew to Sumatra,” Davis said. “I expected to see just lush tropical rainforests, and as far as I could see, it was just palm oil plantations.”

Huge plantations for producing palm oil are wiping out the rainforests in Sumatra where most orangutans live.

“It ‘s a very, very precarious situation,” said Ian Singleton, who heads the Orangutan Conservation Program in Sumatra.

Singleton said the biggest threat is the growing demand for palm oil.

“You’d be amazed just how many products it’s in. It’s in shampoos, it’s in soaps, it’s in your biscuits, in chocolates. It’s everywhere,” Singleton said.

So those working to save the animals are asking consumers to start looking for a label that says “orangutan friendly.

It can be found on palm oil products produced in places that do not threaten crucial habitat.

“We want people to know there is still hope because there is, but it is at a critical turning point. It is at a point where we need to take focus on this or we could lose the species, and it’s a very real possibility,” said Jennifer Davis.

It’s a possibility zoo visitors like Cassie Deitz seem to grasp.

“That’s something I don’t want to even think about. It sounds awful to me. So I’m really concerned,” Deitz said.

The future of orangutans may depend, in more ways than one, on their close connection to us.