PROFAUNA Opposes Nature Reserve of Sempu Island’s Status Change

PROFAUNA Indonesia strongy opposes the possible status change of Sempu Island in Malang, East Java, from Nature Reserve into Nature Recreation Park. The status change has raised an alarm among environmental activists as it would surely endanger the wildlife on the island.

In addition, the status change wouldbecome a major setback for Indonesia's nature conservation effort. Threats to Sempu Island are not supposed to be an excuse to lower its protection status. Instead, it should be a basis to provide it with maximum security.

"The Ministry of Forestry and Environment must not give in to the pressure posed upon Sempu Island Nature Reserve and alter its protection status. This means thatthe Ministry should strengthen the protection," said Rosek Nursahid, chairman of PROFAUNA Indonesia.

PROFAUNA's intensive monitoring in Sempu resulted in data including more than 90 bird species. Among them are rare and protected ones like the Javan Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi), Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayanesis), and Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros).

Not only birds, the island is alsohome to many other protected species such as the Javan Langur (Trachypithecus auratus), Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor), Slow Loris (Nyticebus sp), and Binturong (Arctictis binturong). Even the highly endangered Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be found in the waters around Sempu Island.

Sempu Island was appointed as Nature Reserve by Governor's Decree SK. GB No. 46 Stbl. 1928 No. 69 of 1928. Covering an area of 877 hectares, the island made Nature Reserve due to its unique natural features and  rich biodiversity, which has been exceedingly beneficial for research and science.

"Sempu has a complete ecosystem, including mangroves, coastal forest, lowland forest, as well as freshwater lake. It is a perfect miniature to study natural science,"added Rosek,who started his wildlife monitoring in Sempu in 1994.

Threats to Sempu Island Nature Reserve

Cagar alam Pulau Sempu As a Nature Reserve only research, scientific, and educational activities are allowed in Sempu. This is clearly stated in Law no.5 of1990 concerning the Conservation of Living Natural Resource and Its Ecosystem.

"However, in reality Sempu has turned into a popular recreation site. This might be the main reason for the consideration to alter its status, which is very unfortunate and reckless," explained Rosek.

PROFAUNA demands that the government put aside economic interests in this matter, which could cost the country one of its important wildlife habitat. Threats faced by Sempu should be a warning sign for the government to improve its protection, instead of  lowering it and makes it easier for people to enter.

This rumour of Sempu Island's status alteration has come up a few times now. Several years ago, similar issue has appeared, which was to turn the island into prison.

"PROFAUNA also reproached any provocation and intimidation to local people to force them into supporting the plan of changing Sempu Island's status from nature Reserve to Nature Recreation Park,"claimed Rosek.

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ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats