A Col­lec­tion of News by Moos


Orang­utans, tigers, and sun bears face death within 2 weeks in Sumatra’s Aceh forest

pub­lished 28 March 2012 | mod­i­fied 07 April 2012

For­est fires and land clear­ing by palm oil firms could kill off within weeks about 200 orang­utans in a for­est in west­ern Indone­sia, an envi­ron­men­tal group said on Wednes­day. Dozens of fires are blaz­ing in a peatswamp in Aceh, in the north of Suma­tra, Indonesia.

The fires are con­firmed by NASA imagery. Some of the hotspots are in a con­ces­sion area belong­ing to a com­pany called PT Kallista Alam. Accord­ing to WALHI, the con­ces­sion is in breach of Indonesia’s two-​year mora­to­rium. The con­ces­sion is sub­ject to an on-​going court case.

The for­est is an impor­tant habi­tat for the crit­i­cally endan­gered Suma­tran Orang­utan. Nev­er­the­less, the destruc­tion of the Tripa peatswamp forests has been tak­ing place for sev­eral years.

sumatra, rawa tripa

The orang­utans, part of a pop­u­la­tion of around 6,600 on Suma­tra island, used to live in a lush for­est and peat­land region called Rawa Tripa on the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province. But more than two-​thirds of the area has been divided up into palm oil con­ces­sions, said the Coali­tion to Save Tripa.

Gra­ham Usher, a mem­ber of the coali­tion and a land­scape pro­tec­tion spe­cial­ist, said satel­lite images showed for­est fires had been burn­ing in Tripa since last week, and if allowed to con­tinue they could wipe out orang­utans already forced onto the edge of remain­ing forests.

If there is any pro­longed dry spell, which is quite likely, there’s a very good chance that the whole piece of for­est and every­thing in it, so that’s orang­utans, sun bears, tigers, and all the other pro­tected species in it, will dis­ap­pear in a few weeks and will be gone permanently

rawa tripa peatswamp fire

The palm oil indus­try has expanded to make Indone­sia the world’s top pro­ducer and exporter of the edi­ble oil, used to make good rang­ing from cook­ing oil and biodiesel to bis­cuits and soap to feed grow­ing Asian con­sumer demand. Defor­esta­tion has threat­ened ani­mals like the Suma­tran tiger and Javan rhino and pushed up car­bon diox­ide emis­sions. The Bali tiger and the Java tiger have dis­ap­peared in the last 70 years.

A two-​year mora­to­rium on new per­mits to clear pri­mary forests came into effect in Indone­sia last year, part of a $1 bil­lion deal with Nor­way to cut emis­sions and slow expan­sion of plan­ta­tions. But the mora­to­rium was breached in Aceh on its first days, an envi­ron­men­tal group has said. The last Aceh per­mit for palm oil was issued by for­mer Aceh gov­er­nor Irwandi Yusuf in August last year to PT Kallista Alam, prompt­ing envi­ron­men­tal group Walhi to file a legal suit against Yusuf. A court ver­dict is expected next week. “If Kallista Alam win the case they will burn it and that whole bit of for­est will dis­ap­pear and we can say good­bye to the orang­utan of Tripa peat swamps,” Usher said.

Kallista Alam could not be reached for com­ment, accord­ing Reuters.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Reuters, REDD-​monitor, and Mongabay. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Sources: Reuters, 28.03.2012; REDD-​monitor, 28.03.2012; Mongabay, 27.03.2012)

UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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