Leuser Ecosystem Under Serious Threat
In August last year, 21 Vietnameses were arrested within Leuser Ecosystem of Aceh. Claimed themselvesto be tourists, but all visas have expired so that they have to be doported from Indonesia. It was then also suspicious that they were caught in the area, where the Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatranensis) was sighted. This incident has been revealed by the board of supervisor of Leuser International Foundation (LIF), Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, during a discussion at the SIEJ’s Secretariat in Jakarta (16/1).
The Chairman of LIF’s Board of Directors, Jamal M. Gawi, confirmed the story and based on the information he received, 15 persons have been deported to Vietnam and the rest 6 are still in ditention of Aceh Police for further process. Jamal had the suspicion that they belong to the network of Sumatran rhino horn traders. “Vietnam is internationally well known as the main destination for the trading of rhino horn,” he said.
Since the capture of Sumatran rhino through a camera-trap about in December 2011, international coverage has been vigorous. Additionally, several studies has claimed that there were at least 9 rhino habitats in Leuser with a population of approx. 80 indivuals. “The critical population number of rhino is 100, therefore Sumatran rhino is still critically endangered,” he said.
Jamal also revealde that base on the study result, the value of Asian rhino is the highes, since in the literature of Chinese medicine, Asian rhino is considered as “fire”, while the African one only as “water” that has less value. “One kilogramme of Sumtran rhino horn can be valued for IDR 500 million,” revealed Doris Pandjaitan, the Vice Chairman of YLI.
Others mammal being threatened is the Sumatran tiger. (Panthera tigris sumatrae). Jamal revealed that of LIF’s investigation has indetified the killing of 10 Sumatran tiger around two months ago. “The skin was trasfered to Riau and from there smuggled oversea,” he said.
The area of Leuser Ecosystem covered up to 2.6 million ha and consists of the best quality of Sumatran tropical rain forest currently remaining. Four kinds of large mammals live within Leuser Ecosystem: elephant, tiger, rhino and orangutan, and it is indeed very special, since no other ecosystem in Indonesia host up to four key species of mammals.
But, as revealed by Jamal, the Leuser Ecosystem now faced a seriously severe problem since the spirit of the new elected provincial head of Aceh to preserve Leuser Ecosystem is weakened. For example, the Government of Aceh has dissolved the Leuser Ecosystem Management Board (BP-KEL) in November 2012, although this institution could work with LIF and others to protect Leuser Ecosystem. This step threatened the sustainability of Leuser Ecosytem and its whole potential, as well as natural resources therein.