Press Release: ProFauna Indonesia Calls for a Halt to The Destruction of Orangutan Habitatsin North Sumatra and Aceh

Medan, Indonesia (7/5/2013). ProFauna Indonesia, a foremost wildlife protection NGO in Indonesia, calls for a halt to orangutan habitat destruction in North Sumatra and Aceh. The demand is advocated in Medan, in "Ride for Orangutan 2013" campaign. The campaign aimed to raise people's awareness towards the importance of conserving orangutans and their habitats is conducted by touring around Sumatra by dirtbikes, started from 20 April 2013 in Jakarta.

The provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh are extremely strategic for orangutan conservation, for currently Sumatran orangutans can only be found in those two regions, with Toba Lake as the southernmost distribution. It is estimated that there are no more than 6000 individuals remain in the wild, mostly concentrate in West Leuser, East Leuser, and Rawa Singkil. A small population can also be found in Batang Toru forest, which is presumably the oldest in Indonesia. However, orangutans' existence is critically threatened by deforestation in North Sumatra and Aceh.

In North Sumatra, forest coverage had decimated from not less than 3,1 million hectares in 1985 into only 1,6 million hectares in 2007. The most prominent case takes place in Tripa Swamp, Aceh. 75% of Tripa Swamp, an area as large as 62.000 ha which is also a home to approximately 200 orangutans, had been converted into palm oil plantation. This is undoubtedly a serious threat for orangutan existence.

In the case of Tripa Swamp, WALHI had brought a lawsuit against the governor of Aceh for issuing a license for PT Kallista Alam Lestari to open palm oil plantations. The claim was granted by the Administrative Court of Medan on 30 August 2012. On 8 April 2012, The Ministry of Environment also brought a lawsuit against Pt Kallista Alam Lestari and PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS 2) for doing an environmental crime by opening lands using fire.

Rosek Nursahid, ProFauna Indonesia's chairperson, stated "ProFauna urges the government to enforce laws concerning the protection of orangutans' and other wildlife's habitats. Orangutans' habitats should not be opened for palm oil or other industrial plants plantations, for it is no different from systematically exterminating orangutans." Rosek, who is also a rider in Ride for Orangutan campaign, added "ProFauna demands for a firm retribution for companies destroying forests as well as orangutan dealers, for the sake of orangutans' future."

During Ride for Orangutan campaign held until the end of May 2013, the team pays educational visits on orangutan and habitat protection to schools and campuses throughout Sumatra. In addition, they also have campaigns in public places, involving local communities. ProFauna will also visit the rehabilitation center and also the natural habitat of orangutans organized by Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) in North Sumatra.

Prior to the campaign in Medan, ProFauna's team had successfully held other campaigns in Jakarta, Bandar Lampung, Palembang, Jambi, Padang, Balige Tobasa, and Sibolangit. The campaigns were supported by various communities: automotive clubs, Slankers (the fans of Slank, the biggest rock band in Indonesia), outdoor activity clubs, and students. Local people responded very well.

Made Astuti, the spokesperson of Ride for Orangutan, affirmed "this campaign is different from the others because in every place we visit, we collaborate with local communities. This is important because we want people to know that orangutan protection is our shared responsibility.

Orangutans are protected, thus are forbidden to be traded or be kept as pets. According to Act no. 5 of 1990 Concerning the Conservation of Living Resources and Their Ecosystems, orangutan dealers could be penalized with 5 years of imprisonment and IDR 100 millions fines. However, orangutan trades keep happening. People's lack of awareness and the weak law enforcement have been the main cause of the prevalence of illegal trades and the degradation of forests home to orangutan.

For further information, please contact:

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

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