Orangutan Pet Owners Need ‘Heavy Punishment’: Activists

Fidelis E. Satriastanti | The Jakarta Globe

In an effort to deter people from keeping orangutans in captivity, animal activists and researchers have demanded tough sanctions for anyone keeping the animals as their pets, even after turning them over to the authorities.

“It is most effective if there is an agreement that they [violators] will get a heavy punishment next time,” said Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, an orangutan researcher at the National University in Jakarta. “Otherwise, there will be no deterrent.”

Suci said that people who live in and around plantation and mining areas find the orangutans and keep them. The animals most likely wandered out of their habitats because of encroachment due to growing plantation and mining activities.

The researcher added that the process of releasing orangutans back into the wild takes a long time, costs a lot of money, and that steps must be taken to prevent their being recaptured or returned to captivity.

She added that it costs about $3,500 per year to care for an orangutan that has been in captivity, and prepare it for a life in the wild. That cost does not include health care.

“We are also very disappointed that while we are releasing orangutans back to nature, defendants in orangutan killings are only given sentences of between eight and 10 months,” Suci said. “Where is the deterrent effect?”

Experts say there are 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans remaining in the wild. Eighty percent of them are in Indonesia and the rest are in Malaysia.

Many conservationists have raised concerns that the country’s orangutans could become extinct.

A joint survey by 19 organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, WWF and the Association of Primate Experts, recently discovered that about 750 orangutans died in 2008 and 2009, mostly because of conflicts with human beings.

The Orangutan Reintroduction Center of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan, has released 23 of the 40 orangutans scheduled to be released this year.

At the Reintroduction Center in Samboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, only six of the projected 30 primates have been released.

Jamartin Sihite, BOS chief executive, said recently that the problems and high cost of releasing back orangutans to the wild was due to a shortage of suitable land for a habitat.

“There isn’t enough land that’s suitable and free from disruption,” he said.

In trying to secure more land, the foundation had to obtain land concession rights from the Forestry Ministry.

It paid Rp 13 billion ($1.4 million) for the rights to 86,450 hectares of land for the next 60 years, Jamartin said.

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About endoftheicons

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

2 responses to “Orangutan Pet Owners Need ‘Heavy Punishment’: Activists”

  1. Judy says :

    Having read a dreadful report on the plight of Gundul,who-after having her mother murdered is kept as a ‘pet’ chained by the neck & living on a rotting garbage heap in Kalimantan-I would be suprised if anything would deter the ‘owners’ from keeping Orangutans.This story has been highlighted via Twitter & Facebook-,organizations are aware & unable to help due to permissions,corruption,lack of interest and the fact that another captive Orangutan is being illegally helld by a POLICEMAN!!!!!!!!!!!What chance have the Orangutans got when the law is so lax-The Government needs to enforce the law,Yes the penalties need to be higher because at the moment there is no law,the law doesn’t care,these animals are on show as well as locked away,the police & authorities are WELL AWARE of them but because it is not straightforward,there is too much paperwork,permissions,involvement of authorities-that it all gets pushed aside & forgotton.I and many others won’t forget these ‘stolen’ lives-Yes punish the owners but stop them becoming owners in the first place!

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  1. Orangutan population quickly disappearing « BGTV MEDIA ONLINE - August 27, 2012

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