The Slaughter of Orangutans continues
Our history in orang-utan protection goes back to the beginnings of HSI Australia, with some of the first project money distributed going to orang-utan work in Borneo. Almost 20 years later and we feel we are losing the race against time.
While HSI has been fighting against the destruction of the orang-utans last forest homes for many years now, a new report has shown that direct human conflict is also taking an enormously terrifying toll. The report interviewed 6983 people from 687 villages in Borneo (Kalimantan) about wildlife conflict, with very frightening and dramatic results.
Adding up the individual accounts, the researchers estimated that between 750 and 1800 orang-utans were killed in the year leading up to 2008, but in previous years things were even worse, with calculations that human conflict was resulting in between 1950 and 3100 orang-utans deaths each year!
The illegal trade of orang-utan and other wildlife is one of the impacts of illegal logging, mining and palm oil plantation activities. Forest conversion has cornered the wildlife and triggered wildlife poaching.
The following news report is representative of what is happening to orang-utans who stray into commercial plantations:
Jakarta: 'Indonesia police arrest 2 in orang-utan killings'by NINIEK KARMINI,
Associated Press Updated 03:29 a.m., Wednesday, November 23, 2011:
Two Indonesian plantation workers said they "killed at least 20 endangered orang-utans and proboscis monkeys as a means of pest control for landowners looking to protect their crops," police said Wednesday. The suspects said they "chased down the primates with dogs, then shot, stabbed or hacked them to death with machetes," said Col. Antonius Wisnu Sutirta, a police spokesman.
The men allegedly told authorities the owners of several palm oil plantations on Borneo Island offered $100 for every orang-utan killed and $20 for every long-nosed proboscis monkey. Some (orang-utans) were killed to protect crops; others because villagers thought the animals were
dangerous. A much smaller number were hunted for their meat, the survey showed.
"The simple conclusion is that orang-utans will be hunted to extinction [in 10 to 15 years] unless someone stops the killings," main study author Erik Meijaard said Wednesday.
But these unbearably cruel and unsustainable killings are still going on as we write this heart-felt plea to you for help!
Killing orang-utans by hacking and burning them to death to make oil plantation owners richer, selling their meat for traditional medicines, and selling surviving baby orang-utans to rich locals or westerners MUST COME TO AN END!
While many villagers understand that they are breaking the law by killing orang-utans, we do not seek to vilify local communities trying to live their lives in peace, but we do aim to see multinational companies knocking down forests illegally, planting palm oil and ordering the deaths of thousands of orang-utans, taken into legal account as soon as possible.
Our colleagues at ProFauna Indonesia are at this very second preparing a highly experienced team to go to orang-utan killing hotspots in
Kalimantan to deal with this worsening situation. They will be working with locals to encourage them to call in professional teams if orang-utans are in conflict situations to ensure the animals are moved safely and swiftly to alternate locations. They will also be training the palm oil company officers to handle the animals entering the plantations and asking that they build temporary enclosures so the young orang-utans can be kept safe while help arrives.
Palm Oil Planation
The reality is their landscape has already been altered forever. What we need to do now is work within the new landscape to at least protect the small percentage of orang-utans left in the wild and encourage local people and businesses to help us in this endeavor.
And we need your help to do it. The team will be spending 5 months working in the heart of Borneo running school education programs, intensive training of company officials and workers and ga
rnering local support for orang-utan conservation. This is an ambitious project but this critical research has identified that conflicts around palm oil plantations are accounting for such a large number of senseless and cruel deaths that we must act now.
Please help us in the fight to save this precious species, not just from the cruelty involved in these frenzied massacres, but from the extinction it is moving closer to every day.
If you would like to know more about this species or other actions you can take to protect them, click here.
Michael Kennedy and Verna Simpson