No More Nourishing Food in Tripa | Koran Tempo

Evakuasi Orangutan Rawa Tripa | Koran Tempo (Downloadable .pdf article in Bahasa Indonesia)

There is no more food in Tripa

Environmental activists have again evacuated an orangutan, which was cornered through oil palm plantation.

Seuneam can now build its own nest in Jantho Nature Reserve in Aceh. This 90 kg Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) has also been approaching the females in that forest. “He will most probably have several children in several years,” said the Director of Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Ian Singleton. According to Singleton, the programme has released 30 ex captive  orangutans in Jantho, which is managed by the foundation he is working with. Those orangutans are victims of forest clearing by oil palm plantation companies and other industries. Seuneam was just released in this forest last October 15.

Seuneam was forced to be evacuated from Tripa Peat Swamp forest of Aceh’s Nagan Raya District. Because, he was alone within a block of forest isolated in the middle of oil palm plantations belonging to a number of companies. In the past several months, the SOCP has sighted Seuneam. But, as he was to be captured, he climbed high up a tree and vanished. By the end of last September, a team from Jakarta and from Nagan Raya District Office of Forestry saw the orangutan within the same forest block.

Three weeks ago, SOCP managed to catch and immediately relocate the orangutan to Jantho. They named the orangutan Seuneam. According to Singleton, this animal looks physically quite healthy and not too thin. But, many of its teeth are damaged from eating tree barks for a long time. “He was forced to eat it, since no fruit was available in Tripa,” he said. Singleton is suspicious that there is an air rifle bullet stuck in Sueneam’s body.

Fortunately, Seuneam is a wild orangutan that he immediately adapted with the forest of Jantho. Moreover, many different kinds of fruits are available in this nature reserve of Aceh Besar District. Until now, SOCP staffs still observe Seuneam. Singleton expects the Government to immediately prosecute oil palm companies violating the law. Also to withdraw permits of companies conducting clearing by burning and land clearing activities that violates existing procedures.

Singleton was informed that companies still currently excavating canals, draining the peat swamp forest. Those drainages certainly are damaging the functions of peat ecosystem. “More and more species of timber trees will die, huge amount of carbon will be released through oxidation and damaging the biodiversity, including orangutan,” said Singleton. Therefore, he requested the government to finalise the case of Tripa right now, and recover the forest. “If not, the remaining around 200 orangutans in Tripa will die and the peat swamp forest vanish next year,” he said.

The Tripa Peat Swamp forest is clearly on the brink of total destruction. In the early 80’s, this coastal peat swamp forest on the south western of Aceh still covered no less than 62,000 ha. At that time, around 1,000 orangutans, bears and other species live within the area. Disaster occurred as the New Order regime issued concession to a number of private companies in 1991. Those companies cleared the peat forest and converted it into oil palm plantations.

Now, there are 7 companies in the possession of concessions in Tripa. Peat Swamp. Each occupies between 3,000 to 13,000 ha. Thus, it remains only around 17,000 ha. Expert estimate around 280 orangutans live within this remaining area.

Luckily, Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah revoked a permit last month, which was issued by the former Governor Irwandi Yusuf. On August 25, 2011, Irwandi issued a plantation permit covering 1,605 ha to PT Kallista Alam. This company, with its head quarter in Medan, is one of the most active corporates in Tripa Peat Swamp since the peace accord of 2005. The case of Kallista Alam increasingly sticking up internationally based on its clearing by burning activities.

The same method has been also conducted by PT Surya Panen Subur (SPS 2). The National Police, the Attorney General and the Ministry of Environment have been investigating this company. The Presidential Working Unit for the Development Control and Supervision (UKP4) has also been assisting the process. “We look at the case from the perspective of both criminal and civil law. Strong suspicion of deliberate conduct, in this case towards the burning activities,” said the Deputy VI of the Ministry of Environment, Sudaryono. But the case is yet not handed over to the court.

Adnan N.S., member of the Supervisory Board of Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari (Foundation for Sustainable Ecosystem) urged the government to immediately finalise the legal case on Tripa. At the same time, he said, also to immediately rehabilitate the destroyed peatland. “The first immediate step is to close the drainage in the oil palm plantation area,” he said.

A number of community groups, said Adnan, have recommended to conduct reforestation in Tripa. He himself recommends for polyculture. Other recommendation that came from the Central Government was to declare Tripa as wildlife forest. Reforestation of Tripa is important for the community and also for Seuneam and another hundreds of remaining orangutans. ● UNTUNG WIDYANTO


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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.

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