Orangutan Protection Education for Puan Cepak People

Puan Cepak village, Muarakaman district, Kutai Kartanegara regency, east Borneo surprised the world in 2011 with a brutal killing of orangutans which were considered as pests on the palm oil plantation owned by PT Khaleda. The case was investigated and finally some malefactors were put in trial.

After the long trial, on 21 May 2012 all four defendants were finally adjudged guilty for slaughtering orangutans in East Borneo. Fajar and Tulil, two of the defendants from Muara Ancalong, the judges sentenced them to a 10 months of prison and IDR 50 million subsidiary fine for 2 months of prison. The other two, Leswin and Tadeus, were sentenced for an 8 months of prison and IDR 25 million fine.

Unfortunately, the charges only applied to the workers or field officers, most of whom are local village people. The top level people, also the decision makers of the palm oil company, remained intact.

Even though the malefactors had been charged with prisonement, orangutan-human conflict in East Borneo keeps happening. In the middle of May 2014, a case of orangutan abuse in Bengalon, Kutai Timur regency, was unfolded. A local man found a dying orangutan whose body was full of wounds caused by sharp weapon.

Based on the account given by the people living in several villages in East Borneo, it is assumed that the conflict between the orangutan and palm oil plantation are still taking place. Some plantation workers are suspected to be responsible for the killings of orangutan which are conducted to get rid of the the 'pests'.

Education for the Village People and Plantation Workers

The high possibility of conflict between the orangutan and palm oil companies, which involves the village people who works for the companies, has urged ProFauna Indonesia to conduct a series of educational programs and trainings on conflict mitigation related to the conflict. The training started on 17 May 2014 in Puan Cepak village, which had been notorious as "the village who killed orangutans".

Dr Yaya Rayadin memberi materi mitigasi konflik orangutanThe training and education conducted by ProFauna in collaboration with the Humane Society International of United Kingdom, Ape Alliance, and the Biodiversity Laboratory of Mulawarman University was attended by approximately 50 people from the village, palm oil company, and the Forestry Agency of Kutai Kartanegara regency. Mr. Kadir, the chief of Puan Cepak village, in his opening speech mentioned, "We are very grateful to have this training and education for most of our people are lack of the knowledge about wildlife conservation. ProFauna has been the first organization ever to give such outreach for us, while even the government never did."

"For years the people of Puan Cepak have been living harmoniously with the orangutan. But when the palm oil company began clearing the forest, that is when conflicts started to arise," added the 46 years old gentleman.

The speakers on the training were dr. Yaya Rayadin (a primatologist, specializes in orangutan), Rustam (a wildlife researcher), and Rosek Nursahid (a biologist). On the occasion, Yaya Rayadin shared a simple tips on how to treat an orangutan who enters a plantation. Meanwhile, Rustam gave a presentation about wildlife ecology, including the possible risks posed by the forest degradation.  

Among the attendees from palm oil companies was Nur Suprijadi from PT Khaleda, who was once embroiled on the orangutan slaughter case. In the dialogue session, he said "Basically we agree to work hand in hand in protecting the orangutan. Human and orangutans are equally important, and we are fully aware that companies who are not concerned about the wildlife living around their plantations are at risk of boycott. People would not buy our products."

"We hope that in the future this kind of educational programs could be held more often. We would also encourage the government to strengthen the law enforcement, by giving penalties to the palm oil companies that break the law," Yohanes from PT Swakarsa affirmed.

peserta edukasi dan pelatihan konservasi orangutan di Puan CepakThe positive response from the Puan Cepak people and the palm oil companies for the educational programs, particularly the orangutan conservation training, were very satisfying. "This program will be continued, and ProFauna would come regularly to the local villages and schools in East Borneo to raise people's awareness towards orangutan and habitat protection," announced Rustam, who is also an activist of ProFauna and a wildlife researcher at Mulawarman University. He then concluded that the efforts taken to protect orangutan takes a multi-party participation from the government, private parties, NGOs, as well as the local people.

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

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