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Orangutans May be Extinct in 3 Years

Username By Barrie | May 13th, 2008 | Comments 3 Comments »

Conservationists say protected wild orangutans in Central Kalimantan may be extinct in three years unless the government acts to stop the expansion of oil palm plantations. Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) research shows the orangutan population is falling fast as forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations.

“We don’t need to wait until 2015 to see orangutans extinct in Central Kalimantan. They will be gone in two or three years,” COP forest program officer Novi Hardianto said. “The expansion of oil palm plantations is wiping out the orangutan habitat.”

Forestry Ministry data shows there should be about 31,300 wild orangutans in the forests of Central Kalimantan.

“The population is only 20,000 orangutans now,” said Novi.

He said government ambitions to make Indonesia the world’s largest palm oil producer have accelerated the extinction of orangutans.

The provincial administration has also proposed a plan to clear a further 455,000 hectares of rainforest for oil palm plantations.

“Our investigation shows palm oil companies, who are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), are still clearing forest and orangutans are suffering the consequences,” Novi said.

He referred to the palm oil producers association’s RSPO initiative to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil.

The RSPO requires new plantations established after November 2005 not to clear primary forest which has conservation value.
Novi said the Forestry Ministry has yet to take action to protect orangutans living outside the conservation areas.

“There has been no court case on the killing of orangutans,” he said.

Environmentalists recently stepped up pressure on palm oil firms in Indonesia to promote sustainable forest management and stop expanding plantations into the forest.

Environmental group Greenpeace has forced consumer goods giant Unilever to buy only certified sustainable palm oil, including from Indonesia — the world’s third-largest forestry nation with 120 million hectares of forest.

Greenpeace said it estimated 1,600 orangutans were killed because of expansion of oil palm plantations during 2006.

Novi said dozens of conservationists wearing orangutan costumes would stage a rally here Thursday to demand government stop expansion of oil palm plantations into forests.

During the press conference, COP activists showed pictures taken last year of dead orangutans being carried out of new plantations in Central Kalimantan.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched an ambitious Orangutan Action Plan to protect the country’s orangutan species by 2017 during the recent Bali climate change conference.

Adianto P. Simamora

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3 Responses to “Orangutans May be Extinct in 3 Years”

Amanda Enright | August 7th, 2008 at 10:50 pm | comment link
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The people in the western world are the main end consumers of products containing palm oil and timber which is often taken illegally from rainforest nations like Indonesia. We must band together and tell these companies that we won’t support their businesses if it involves the extermination of orangutans and the relentless destruction of forests without the effective protection of areas with high conservation value. I have started a blog to do just that and i encourage others to visit my blog, take any email action that they support and make suggestions to me about companies to target and why. To find out more, please go to: orangaction.blogspot.com

{Purba NEgoro | April 11th, 2009 at 6:20 am | comment link
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Blame the real culprit- Malaysian dn Indonesian dwelling Chinese. They are the ones cutting down trees in Naational Parks to sell to their relatives in Chin and Taiwan.
Native Indonesians do not have the commercial connections to make such illegal forestry viable.

Chinese do.

KGH | May 18th, 2009 at 6:34 pm | comment link
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Blaming people is all well and good. But I as a westerner have the responsibility to stop purchasing products that use palm oil, as Amanda says. It is unbelievable the simple products that contain mass palm oil. Many extremely popular takeaways, especially say ones who fry chicken with (herbs and spices)… And if you ever buy “breakfast juice,” I would advise checking the back for ‘vegetable oil’, or palm oil. Apparently a great source of vitamin B, someone should tell the orangutans that.

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