Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mankind - 2; Orangutans - 0

Orangutans at Pringen Safari park in Pasuruan. Part of a national park on Borneo island home to hundreds of endangered orangutans has been turned into a development zone complete with an airport and brothels, Indonesian activists said. (Photo courtesy: AFP/File/Aman Rahman)

At the risk of causing my good friend, K, to cry, I regretfully post this further violation to the Orangutan population.

The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) released a statement revealing that almost 600 orangutans have disappeared from the Kutai National Park over the last seven years. The Park is located in the East Kalimantan province which, coincidentally, has seen unchecked construction for the past seven years.

"The number of orangutans in the area, which was 600 individuals in 2004, has fallen to only 30 to 60 individuals at present," Hardi Baktiantoro from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) told AFP.

The main cause of this incredible decrease in the Orangutan population lies with the East Kalimantan administration. In 2002, they received permission from the national Forestry Ministry to build a 60 km (37.2 mi) road through the park, the COP says. Commercial and residential development stole 23,712 hectares (58,569 acres) of forest from the “old people of the jungle”. Almost overnight, seven new villages sprung up causing the Orangutans to retreat even further into the forest.

"The Kutai National Park has been changing into a city, complete with an airport, gas stations, marketplace... a bus terminal and prostitution complex," COP habitat campaign manager Yon Thayrun said in a press release.

Thayrun elaborates: "The root of the problem with the Kutai National Park is a breach of duty committed by officials to get political and financial advantages. They gave away land spaces to people to win their votes in the local administration elections. They also mobilize people to seize the national park area."

As one would expect, Forest Ministry spokesman Masyhud denied that the forest had been badly damaged. In an effort to downplay the claims of conservationists he accused them of exaggerating the impact of the road on the orangutans.

"Its scale is not as dramatic as they have said. The road development has not sacrificed the national park. Like in many countries, a national park isn't meant to be completely sterile of social and economic development. It's true that this road development affected the orangutan habitat; but, it's only temporary as they have adapted to it. We have also implemented some conservation programmes involving local communities."

Following is a video of Kutai National Park.

1 comment:

kathi said...

While this story did make my cry, I'm glad you're reporting on it, P. Love the Burroughs quote and Ocean Day!