Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Tag

Indonesia’s silent wildlife killer: hunting   2 comments


Dec. 26, 2014 – Commentary by Erik Meijaard, the Borneo Futures initiative

Male orangutan tranquilized for a health check up in Sumatra

Male orangutan tranquilized for a health check up in Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler


By and large, Indonesia is a peaceful country. In fact, on the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s list of homicide rates, Indonesia ranks number 10, making Indonesians one of the least murderous people on Earth. A ban on gun ownership probably helps, although obviously there are many other ways to snuff out another person. Maybe Indonesia’s general tendency to avoid conflict helps, too.

Whatever the reason why Indonesians are relatively unlikely to kill each other, such favors are not extended to Indonesia’s non-human wildlife. The relative safety of Indonesia’s people does not guarantee similar security for its animals.

Wildlife killing in Indonesia seems to be at an all-time high. In fact, a recent study published in the respected journal Conservation Biology indicates that on the island of Borneo, wildlife killing is now a bigger conservation threat than commercial logging.

Now such a statement is bound to generate a lot of derision. Many conservation organizations, scientists, as well as the government authorities will pooh-pooh the idea that hunting impacts are that disastrous. Why that is, I want to explore further.

But first, back to the study. The research, led by Jedediah Brodie of the University of British Columbia, deployed a series of camera traps across a gradient of disturbed areas to investigate direct and indirect impacts on wildlife. Although both hunting and new logging reduced the number of species in a given area, there was evidence that some wildlife eventually returned to selectively logged areas. This confirms analyses that my colleagues and I published in the Life after Logging book, several years ago.

The important finding is that the impacts of logging were relatively transient. Hunting pressure on the other hand was continual. Overall, hunting adversely impacted 87 percent of the species in the study.

Wild pig in a snare in Aceh, Sumatra. Photo by Rhett A. Butler


These findings resonate with other hunting studies that I have conducted over the years on Borneo.

First, our Borneo-wide interview surveys conducted in 2009 suggested that thousands of orangutans are killed every year. More than half of the killings resulted in the orangutan being turned into a tasty steak or orangutan stew. The killing of orangutans happens both deep inside forests and in areas that are being deforested. Especially in areas where orangutans co-occurred with nomadic hunting tribes, the orangutan went extinct ages ago. So for orangutans, the picture that hunting is a bigger threat than logging seems well supported.

To get a better idea of the number of animals that are commonly affected through hunting, I conducted another study a few years ago. Every month for one year we gave 18 households in a Dayak village in East Kalimantan a calendar on which they could mark – with stickers – the different types of animals they had caught. After one year this amounted to 3,289 animals with a combined weight of 21,125 kg. The majority were bearded pigs (81 percent of total weight), deer (8 percent) and fish (6 percent). That’s about half a kilo of wildlife or fish per head of the population per day.

Now the total amount is a pretty meaningless number. What really matters is whether or not the take-off levels are sustainable. That is, can people keep harvesting at this level without species populations going extinct?

Problematically, almost no one is studying this. We can, however, get some idea about the answer when we talk to local communities. And their answer is pretty gloomy.

Pretty much any species they mention is considered to be in decline. There are fewer pigs, fewer deer, fewer monkeys, fewer orangutans, fewer fish, fewer snakes. Everything is going down. People are concerned about this, because today their meat is a free resource, but when that is gone they will have to start shopping in markets and for that they need cash. But despite their worries, no one is doing anything to change hunting habits.

Ever since I started talking to people in Kalimantan in the early 1990s about their hunting habits, I have been rather baffled by the fact that so few conservation-minded people in Indonesia show any interest in the topic, unless it concerns big conservation icons like tiger or rhino. If hunting is indeed such a big conservation problem, why are we not doing anything about it?

Cuscus being sold as meat in the Wamena market in Indonesian New Guinea. Photo by Rhett A. Butler


Part of the explanation is a belief held by many conservation advocates that the ‘traditional’ people of Borneo and other tropical forest areas somehow understand the concept of sustainable hunting levels. Trust me, they don’t.

If we want to maintain fish, bird and mammal populations that are big enough to feed people in perpetuity, they will have to change their hunting and fishing habits.

Laws about killing and harvesting endangered and commercially valuable species need to be enforced. Zero-hunting zones have to be established where wildlife populations can grow. Similar no-fishing zones have proven to be very effective, if indeed enforced rigorously.

And importantly, as long as wildlife is considered a resource owned by everyone, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ will apply: no one will bother to manage the resource because nobody feels ownership or responsibility.

The empty forest syndrome – standing trees without wildlife – is staring Indonesia into the face in pretty much all forests. Which conservation organizations and government authorities have the guts to stand up and do something about it?

Surely, for such apparent non-violent, non-confrontational and chilled-out people like Indonesians, it shouldn’t be too much of a burden to also extend that peace and love to its wildlife, right? After all, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Erik Meijaard is a Jakarta-based conservation scientist.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Jakarta Globe and has been reprinted here with the permission of the author.


Hundreds of animals seized in operation targeting wildlife trafficking across Asia   2 comments

From:  InterPol

Dec. 19, 2014

LYON, France – A five-month long INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking in tigers and other big cats across Asia has resulted in the seizure of hundreds of animals and more than 160 arrests.

Involving 13 countries, Operation PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife Species) also focused on lesser known species also in high demand by the black market, such as bears and pangolins. Wildlife traders using the internet and social media in certain countries were also investigated.

Among the live animals recovered were tigers, leopards, bears, monkeys, red pandas, lions and crocodiles in addition to 3,500 kg of elephant ivory, 280kg of pangolin scales, rhino horns and more than 4,000 kg of red sandalwood. A large number of turtles, tortoises and birds were also seized across a wide range of countries indicating a high demand for these species.

Designed and developed by the involved member countries as a collaborative law enforcement response to wildlife crime, Operation PAWS was coordinated by INTERPOL’s Environmental security unit as part of Project Predator, in addition to support from the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

Aimed at supporting and enhancing the governance and law enforcement capacity for the conservation of Asian big cats, INTERPOL’s Project Predator is primarily funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The 13 countries which participated in Operation PAWS which was conducted between July and November were Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. It was also supported by Australia, Canada and the USA.

Live tigers, leopards, bears, lions and crocodiles in addition to 3,500 kg of elephant ivory, 280kg of pangolin scales, tiger skins and rhino horns were seized during the five-month long Operation PAWS. © Indonesia



A five-month long INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking in tigers and other big cats across Asia has resulted in the seizure of hundreds of animals and more than 160 arrests. © Vietnam


As well as tigers and other Asian big cats Operation PAWS (Protection of Asian Wildlife Species) also focused on lesser known species also in high demand by the black market, such as bears and pangolins. © Vietnam


Hundreds of animals were seized in an INTERPOL coordinated operation targeting wildlife trafficking across Asia. © Malaysia



Elephant poaching soars as Sumatran forests turn into plantations   2 comments


Elephant poaching soars as Sumatran forests turn into plantations.

Originally written for Mongabay-Indonesia by Zamzami; translated into English by Olivia Rondonuwu 
August 14, 2014

Reported kills for 2014 in Riau Province reached 22 by June, surpassing 2013 numbers by 63 percent

There has been a spike in elephant deaths in Sumatra this year, and conversion of rainforest to plantations is one of the main causes, according to the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum, or FKGI. The number of Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) poached in the province of Riau so far this year is staggering, with 22 reported kills in the first six months of 2014 compared to 14 for the entirety of 2013. 

FKGI – a group comprised of several NGOs and individuals promoting conservation of elephants and their habitat — said conversion of natural forest to industrial forest such as timber plantations has split open the ecosystem and provides hunters easy access to elephant areas. 

Sumatran elephants in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

Sumatran elephants in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

The Sumatran elephant is protected by Indonesia’s Law No. 5/1990 on Sustainable Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation. Due to a rapidly diminishing population, in 2011 the IUCN changed the status of the subspecies from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered – just one rung above extinction. 

The ivory trade is thought to be the main motive of the recent spate of elephant deaths, with WWF Indonesia reporting most carcasses were devoid of tusks. Unlike African elephants that grow tusks regardless of sex, only male Asian elephants have tusks. 

The group said that 18 out of 22 elephant corpses were discovered near Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper’s (RAPP) concession area. The company is a subsidiary of APRIL, the pulp & paper division of the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Group, a conglomerate owned by Singapore-based businessman Sukanto Tanoto

“The corpse of the [last] elephant was found in an acacia plantation just 50 meters from the main logging road and not far from a RAPP security checkpoint,” FKGI head Krismanko Padang said in a press statement. 

Four other dead elephants were found in Hutani Sola, Balai Raja Elephant Training Center, which is the concession area of the firm Arara Abadi. 

Security posts set up by timber plantation companies have been loose and unable to inspect people passing through the checkpoints, FKGI added. 

“From the information we gather, hunters’ car often enter the plantation area but the security officers could not stop them,” Krismanko said. 

To address the situation, FKGI called for industrial forest companies such as RAPP to play a more active role in protecting elephants roaming their concession by showing more responsibility, as well as pursuing poaching cases and determining the perpetrators and the motives behind the killings.

Palm oil and wood fiber concessions have taken over the majority of Riau (province indicated by green line). Map courtesy of Global Forest Watch.

In the last decade, at least 142 elephants have been killed by poison or gunfire, but only a single case has been brought to court. That happened in 2005 in Mahato, Rokan Hulu district, and the perpetrator was sentenced to 12.5 years in jail for poaching, possessing a firearm and defying authorities. 

Elephant deaths have also occurred at Tesso Nilo, one of the last remaining lowland rainforests on Sumatra, which has been designated the Center for Elephant Conservation by the Forestry Ministry. The deaths occurred in the concession areas of Rimba Peranap Indah, Siak Raya Timber and Arara Abadi in the Tesso Nilo forest block. 

The head of Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) said investigation of elephant deaths is difficult. This is due to a lack of available funds and human resources, as well as the difficulty in finding witnesses, as the places where killings take place are often very remote. 

“We are not making excuses but the reality is our human resources and funds are very limited. There are still other problems we need to tackle such as forest fires, illegal logging and forest encroachment,” said Kemal Amas, head of BKSDA. 

According to Krismanko, attempts have been made to reach out to RAPP, with a request to RAPP management to convene and discuss the deaths. However, the request was denied by a company representative, who said they were unavailable due to the Islamic Eid holiday. 

“It goes to show that Sumatran elephant death is not a priority for RAPP,” Krismanko said. “So let RAPP’s image become bad in the eye of the people and consumers. Their commitment is questionable.” 

Sunarto, a species specialist from WWF, said plantation firms whose area is part of elephant range should be active in conserving elephants and be willing to allocate space for their movements. 

“The government should give incentives and appreciation to companies and people who helped save elephants,” Sunarto said. “The government must also enforce the law on those involved in damaging the habitat and even worse those who hunt and kill this highly intelligent and sociable animal.”

This article was originally published on Mongabay-Indonesia on July 18, 2014.


Indonesian human rights   Leave a comment

All 4 mails sent – only took 2-3 minutes. Thanks for providing the info Stacey.

Our Compass


As we Fight for Animal Rights, I wish to bring your attention to the plight of the mentally ill in Indonesia… this link gives insight to the lack of care for the institutionalized individuals with mental disorders… As activists we fight not just for animals, we fight for the rights of all living beings, including these people…
This country needs intervention of some kind.. Humanitarian folks from perhaps the states and or another country that have the ability to help facilitate a new way of caring for their mentally ill… I truly don’t think this is to be cruel so much as they are uneducated on how to deal with them and we…

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