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Two more illegal pet orangutans confiscated from Tripa peat swamp forest area, Aceh, Indonesia

      PRESS RELEASE

Joint Press Release by:-

 

  1. 1.     PanEco Foundation (Switzerland)
  2. 2.     Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Aceh
  3. 3.     Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (YEL) Medan

 

Two more illegal pet orangutans confiscated from Tripa peat swamp forest area, Aceh, Indonesia

Banda Aceh (28th March 2013)

 

On Wednesday morning (27th March) another two young orangutans arrived at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme’s Orangutan Quarantine Centre near Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Both were confiscated by a team comprising SOCP veterinarians and staff of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in Aceh (BKSDA Aceh).

Both orangutans were being kept illegally, at two different locations in the village of Simpang Dua, Nagan Raya District. Almost certainly both were captured in the nearby Tripa peat swamp forests, known internationally due to high profile legal cases against palm oil companies operating illegally there.

“We see this happening over and over again in Tripa,” explained Dr Ian Singleton, Director of the SOCP. “Palm oil companies clear the forest completely, then burn what’s left, leaving a totally barren landscape. Almost none of the wildlife living in such areas survives this process, and that includes orangutans. Orangutans often die of gradual starvation or are deliberately killed by local people or plantation workers. When the animal killed is a female with an infant, if the infant is lucky enough to survive, it is often then taken as a pet, or to try and sell it. This is almost certainly what happened with these two and they are just two of many that we have confiscated in the Tripa area over the last few years,” he added.

The two orangutans, a female named Meisin, approx. 5 years old, and a young male named Upin, only about 2 years old. Travelled to the SOCP’s quarantine centre overnight and are now settling in to their new home. Each will undergo thorough medical checks in the next few days and a minimum 1 month quarantine isolation period, to ensure no new diseases appear. Only then can they be mixed with other similar orangutans and begin the process of rehabilitation.

“The older of the two is clearly underweight for his age but is enthusiastic about food and should soon be up to normal weight. Both were kept in small cages at the back of their owners homes.” reported drh Ikhsani Surya Hidayat, the senior veterinarian on the confiscation team. “The two orangutans were found in reasonable condition although they were clearly too hot in their exposed cages, especially due to the zinc roofs they had,” he added.

After a period of time at the quarantine center both young orangutans will eventually be returned to the wild at SOCP’s orangutan reintroduction centre in Jantho, Aceh Besar, where a new population of the Critically Endangered species is being established. To date the SOCP has released over 150 orangutans at its other reintroduction centre in Jambi Province, and now 37 at the new site in Jantho.

“The smallest one, Upin, was being kept by a local policeman from Polres Nagan Raya, even though its against the law to keep an orangutan as a pet in Indonesia” noted Asril, Operations Manager for the SOCP, tasked with organizing the confiscations. “Unfortunately its quite common for us to find police and military personnel keeping orangutans illegally. The problem is that there is seldom ever any law enforcement associated with these cases and illegal pet orangutan owners know that the chances of them being prosecuted are almost zero. This is something that simply has to change if we are ever to bring an end to the illegal killing and capture of wildlife,” he added.

Head of provincial Natural Resources Conservation Agency in Aceh (BBKSDA Aceh) Mr. Amon Zamora, MSc appealed to all parties to desist from capturing orangutans or keeping them as pets as it is a clear violation of Indonesian National Law. “It is totally illegal under Indonesian law to kill, capture, trade or keep an orangutan as a pet, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a 100 million rupiah fine (approximately US$10,000),” he stressed.

The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP; www.sumatranorangutan.org) is a collaborative programme involving the Swiss based PanEco Foundation (www.paneco.ch), Indonesia’s Yayasan Ecosystem Lestari (www.yelweb.org) and the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (DitJen PHKA; www.dephut.go.id)

Main activities of the SOCP include:-

  1. Confiscation, quarantine, and reintroduction to the wild of illegal pet Sumatran orangutans
  2. Research and monitoring of remaining wild Sumatran orangutan populations
  3. Habitat protection and conservation
  4. Conservation education and awareness raising

To date the SOCP as returned to the wild more than 190 illegal captive orangutans and rescued a number of orangutans in similar situations to Seuneam.

–oOo–

 

For further information contact:-

 

  1. Mr Amon Zamora, MSc, Kepala BKSDA Aceh,

Tel: +62-651 42694, Email: bksdanad@yahoo.co.id

  1. Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation PanEco Foundation / Head of SOCP,

Tel: +62811650491, Email: mokko123@gmail.com

[PRESS RELEASE] Increase in fires burning in Tripa highlights Indonesian Government failing to cease deforestation

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION – PLEASE SEND TO RELEVANT NETWORKS

29 June 2012.

Press release from “Coalition to save the Tripa peat swamps”

This photo made available on June 29th, 2012 showing numerous illegally lit fires continue to rage the peat swamp forest of Tripa, SOCP/YEL (Handouts/Editorial use ONLY)

 Increase in fires burning in Tripa highlight Indonesian Government failing to cease deforestation; orangutan population doomed unless illegal activities halted immediately.

Another massive wave of fires currently sweeping across the Tripa peat swamp forests has highlighted the accelerating destruction and ongoing disregard of Indonesian National Law by palm oil companies inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem, despite a high level National Investigation launched months ago, which is yet to report on findings.

A recent spike in the number of fires was recorded by satellites monitoring fire hotspot activity in Sumatra, and confirmed by field staff yesterday who filmed and photographed numerous fires burning in the palm oil concessions operating right across in Tripa.

The five companies at present actively operating in Tripa have responded to the increased media scrutiny and current investigation by increasing security on their plantations. Some are even being guarded by military and police personnel stationed along access routes while illegally lit fires burn inside.

“The ongoing destructive activities of these companies during the investigation indicates their complete disregard for Indonesian law and the authority of the ongoing investigation, and the government is allowing this to happen.” Stated Kamaruddin, lawyer for the Tripa community.

“A direct Presidential Instruction is urgently required to bring an immediate halt to the rampant and illegal destruction of Tripa, not a speech telling the world deforestation is a thing of the past.” Kamaruddin added.

“There is no doubt that each of these companies is breaking several laws. Whilst we realize, and very much appreciate and support the investigation going on (by the Department of Environment), it’s proving to be too little too late. These companies simply have to be ordered to stop immediately, and that order to be strictly enforced, otherwise the Peat Forests and inhabitants of Tripa will be lost forever”, he added.

One of the five companies operating in Tripa, PT. Kallista Alam, was challenged in court and its concession area recently reinstated as off limits to deforestation and degradation in the 2nd revision of Moratorium Map on May 25th, 2012. This particular concession has been the subject of an ongoing legal battle as it clearly contravenes National Spatial Law No 26/2007 and Government Regulation 26/2008, since it was granted inside the Leuser Ecosystem National Strategic Area for environmental protection, in which no concessions can be granted that damage the environmental protection function of the ecosystem, and in which all activities that do damage the ecosystem must be halted, and damaged areas restored.

Fires continued to rage late yesterday in the northern stretches of the PT Kallista Alam concession. Likewise, numerous obviously deliberately set fires were also observed in the concessions of PT. Surya Panen Subur 2, PT. Cemerlang Abadi, PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur , PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari and an area known as the PT Patriot Guna Sakti Abadi concession, even though the latter was never formally granted.

“The situation is indeed extremely dire” reports Dr Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “Every time I have visited Tripa in the last 12 months I have found several orangutans, hanging on for their very survival, right at the forest edge. Its very easy to find them and we have already evacuated a few lucky ones to safer areas. But when you see the scale and speed of the current wave of destruction and the condition of the remaining forests, there can be no doubt whatsoever that many have already died in Tripa due to the fires themselves, or due to starvation as a result of the loss of their habitat and food resources”, he explained.

The Tripa peat swamp forests have received considerable international attention, much of it focusing on the fact that the burning of Tripa’s peat swamp forests made a mockery of a 1 billion USD agreement between the Governments of Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, also known as the REDD deal, since the peat alone in Tripa sequesters huge amount of carbon that is being released into the atmosphere even now .

Tripa was also high on the agenda at the first meeting between the newly inaugurated Governor of Aceh and the European Union, just a few days ago. Furthermore, on June 13th at a global policy address on the future of Indonesia’s forests, ahead of Rio+20 summit, at CIFOR, President SBY himself proclaimed that “deforestation is a thing of the past” and “Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster.  That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry.”

Yet the ongoing destruction witnessed by the coalition team in recent days is a clear indication that these are simply empty words, and that Indonesia is giving no reasons for its international commitments to be taken as anything more than mere rhetoric.

Dr Singleton also pointed out, “There is still a decent orangutan population in Tripa, however hard and fast it is being extinguished, and there are also large tracts of land that have been cleared of forests but never used. If these companies were immediately instructed to stop all their destructive operations while the legal investigation process continues, and then removed, ideally with prosecutions and appropriate punishment, Tripa, its orangutan population, and many of the contributions it once made to local community livelihoods could still be restored.”

“But without an immediate halt it will all be lost, to the ultimate benefit of only a handful of already incredibly rich people based elsewhere. This whole thing makes absolutely no sense at all, not environmentally nor even economically. It is simply greed, on a massive scale. A simply staggering scale in fact.” Stressed Dr. Ian Singleton.

 

Notes for Editors:

Further Hi-res photos available for download herehere and here.

.pdf version of the press release is available for download here

following fire hotspots maps available for download here

Hotspots detected by MODIS satellite in Tripa Peat Swamp between 17-26 June 2012. Plotted on LANDSAT imagery 7 dated June 3rd, 2012

For Further Press inquiries, Please Contact:

Kamaruddin (Bahasa Indonesian Only)

Tripa Community Lawyer

08116700118

Dr Ian Singleton

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

Email: mokko123@gmail.com

Mobile: +62811650491

Also, for further media statement, please contact:

Saud Usman Nasution

Spokesperson for Indonesian National Police

+62 811 979 2222

PT. Kallista Alam

Komp. Taman Setiabudi Indah II, blok V (ruko) No. 11-14, Medan 20133 Phone: 061 – 8216541

Fax: 061 – 8216532

Jl.Cycas II Blok UU, No.55 Taman Setia Budi Indah, Medan, North Sumatera

Phone: 061-800200, 812380

Fax: 021-812380

PT. Surya Panen Subur 2

Jl.Pulo Ayang raya,Blok OR Kav.1 Kawasan industri Pulogadung Jakarta13930

Phone: (021)4616555

Fax: (021)4616550

 

PT. Cemerlang Abadi

Central Plaza, 3rd Floor, Jl.Jend.Sudirman Kav.47 Jakarta 12930

Phone: 021-5255414,5255413

Fax: 021-520748

PT. Dua Perkasa Lestari

Rasuna Office Park ZO 10-11 Rasuna Epicentrum, Jakarta

Phone: 021-83703232, 031-5925239

Fax: 021-83704488, 031-5925387

PT. Gelora Sawita Makmur

LENDMARK Centre,Tower A, 8th floor,Jl. Jend sudirman No.1 Jakarta 12910

Phone: (021)5712790, 5712853

Fax: (021)5712716

Related articles

Press Release – For Immediate Distribution – 13/06/12 From: Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Forest Tripa continues to burn as President Yudhoyono to give global policy address on future of Indonesia’s forests

[Tripa – Aceh Province – Indonesia] A field team from the Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Swamp Forest visit in Indonesia’s Tripa Peat Forest has unearthed alarming evidence of fires continuing to be lit and burn in the highly threatened Tripa Peat Forest despite assurances from the Indonesian central government that ‘triple track’ legal action was underway and a small area of the Peat Forest had returned to the moratorium map central to the multibillion agreement between Indonesia and Norway to reduce carbon emission from burning the carbon dense Peat Forests.

Satellite information led the focus of the team to the eastern region in the 60,000 hectare Tripa Peat Forest, where fire hotspot alerts had recorded another increase in burning activity. Upon entering the area the ground team discovered fresh burns scars, and smouldering ashes from recently lit fires, and new fires being lit around 6.30pm yesterday evening.

“This is blatantly breaching Indonesian law” Said Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “Despite the joint Investigation currently taking place by the Ministry of Environment and the National Police, in areas right across Tripa, and indeed Indonesia, the National Laws continue to be flaunted.

“While a small area of Tripa has been returned to the moratorium map, there are 5 palm oil concessions in Tripa operating illegally inside the protected Leuser Ecosystem, yet only 2 of them are being investigated, and even in these destruction continues on the ground with drainage canals still drying the peat swamp.” Dedy Raith, Forest Campaigner for WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia explained, “The Ministry of Environment and National Police team needs to increase the scope to of the investigation to include all concessions and the full 60,000 hectares of Tripa.“

“The full path of the destruction of Tripa must be followed, to identify the responsible parties who allowed this to happen, and full legal prosecutions carried out. This is a very simple case. In August 2011 a permit was issued by the hand of former Aceh Governor Irwandi to palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to convert 1,605 hectares of protected peat forest into palm oil. The issuing of this permit very clearly breaches National Spatial planning law 26/2007, leaving both mentioned parties criminally liable. From the outset, the violation was clear for all to see. Pak Kuntoro has already labelled the concession illegal, return this small aspect of Tripa to REDD Moratorium map and demanded PT Kallista Alam restore any forest it has already damaged”, explained Kamaruddin, the Acehnese Lawyer representing the community of Tripa.

Sudariyono, the Indonesian Environmental Ministry’s head of law enforcement unit, recently said “We will investigate if the company have properly conducted an Amdal [environmental impact analysis] or has other environmental permits.”

continues“Yet, this investigation must include all companies operating inside the Tripa Peat Forests, protected by National Spatial Planning Law 26/2007. All companies in Tripa must be reviewed because each operation has indicated a degree of legal violation, which again is highlighted again by the fires burning today. To review all Amdal processes is simple, and standard legal procedure, and I believe should result in prosecution of all parties responsible for violation of Indonesia law.” Kamaruddin concluded.

“Tripa is an important part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the world’s most important conservation areas, home to Sumatran Orangutans, Rhinos, Elephants, Tigers and a whole host of other wildlife, there should be no permits and no destruction of this iconic and globally important area, it’s very clearly against Indonesian Law, it is protected by National Strategic Planning Law 26/2007, and Government Regulation 26/2008. Moratoriums may come and go, but it is National Spatial Planning that must be adhered to for the forests of Indonesia to have any chance of survival“, concluded Dr Singleton.

For further media comment or interview, please contact:

Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation / Sumatran Orangutan Conservation programme Mobile: +62-811-650-491 Email mokko123@gmail.com

DeddyRatih, Forest Campaigner, WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia Mobile: +62-8125-080-7757 Email: ube.hitar@gmail.com