News / Asia

    Borneo's Endangered Orangutans Pay Price of Progress

    A pair of orangutans receive medical treatment at the Nyaru Menteng Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) center in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan (File).
    A pair of orangutans receive medical treatment at the Nyaru Menteng Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) center in Palangkaraya, central Kalimantan (File).
    Kate Lamb

    Just a week after the last known Javan rhino was reported dead in Vietnam, a new study shows that orangutan hunting is on the rise in one of that animal's last refuges, the Borneo region of Kalimantan. With swathes of forests being cleared for industry, the endangered primates are entering villages and plantations for food - leading villagers to kill them as pests or to eat them.

    The conversion of Kalimantan’s forests into concessions for logging, pulp and paper and mining has long been a threat to the survival of the orangutan. But it is not the only one.

    Dr. Erik Meijaard is the chief scientist behind the survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group. He says that shrinking forests go hand in hand with the mounting slaughter of endangered orangutans by local communities.

    Dr. Meijard says bushmeat is part of the local lifestyle, so even if hunters are not looking for orangutans, they will eat them when they catch them.

    “A lot of people like orangutan meat. I mean, people describe it as a sweet meat that has a good taste apparently. So I think that once people do have an orangutan they are quite happy to eat it… The average hunter in Borneo will be targeting pigs and deer. They are the biggest animals with the most meat. But sometimes if you don't get anything and you can catch an orangutan you'll take it.”

    A member of a rescue team walks towards an unconscious orangutan after it received an anesthetic shot at the Damage rainforest in central Kalimanatan province (File)
    A member of a rescue team walks towards an unconscious orangutan after it received an anesthetic shot at the Damage rainforest in central Kalimanatan province (File)

    Conducted in more than 600 villages in Kalimantan, the survey showed that orangutans are sometimes deliberately targetted.

    Local villagers told the researchers that oil palm companies have paid them to eradicate the endangered animals. The companies see them as pests, explains Dr. Damayanti, a lecturer in Ecology at the Agriculture Institute in Bogor who was involved in the study.

    “The are instances when the community can get money if they kill orangutan because companies who see orangutan as a threat really want to decrease the population of orangutan," said Damayanti. "So if people can present some remnants of orangutan body parts, they can get money out of it. ... There is an incentive although of course none of the companies would acknowledge that, but when you go and talk to the local people then yeah.”

    Dr Meijaard, says that at least two interviewees admitted to killing some 150 orangutans between them in return for money from an oil palm company.

    The survey was focused on gauging community attitudes rather than determining exactly how many orangutans are left. But the researchers concluded that even if all forests are protected from now on, orangutans will be wiped out if the hunting is not adequately addressed.

    A keeper feeds Elmo, a four-day-old male baby orangutan from Borneo, in an animal hospital at Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java.
    A keeper feeds Elmo, a four-day-old male baby orangutan from Borneo, in an animal hospital at Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java.

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has announced a national action plan to protect orangutans, but environmentalists like Dr. Meijaard say more is needed, including targeted campaigns to increase public awareness and moves to reduce corruption in the forestry and mining industries.

    "There has to be a way that we as Indonesians will live together with these animals, accept them as being part of our environment and get some message out there that gets people to think about it and it has to go hand in hand with law enforcement. People should become aware that killing orangutans is just not an option anymore," said Meijaard.

    Orangutans once thrived across Southeast Asia, but today they are found only in the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. In the province of Kalimantan, there are an estimated 50,000 orangutans.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora