Orangutan News Update: Orangutan Trio Found Near Timbered Forest

East Kalimantan: Staff from timber companies have found and rescued three orangutans trapped in an unforested area between industrial timber estates in Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan, a researcher said on Thursday, according to The Jakarta Globe Report.

Yaya Rayadin, an orangutan researcher from the Mulawarman University in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, said the orangutans were found on Sunday by teams from Sumalindo Hutani Raya and Surya Hutani Jaya, which operate industrial timber estates there.

The orangutans — a female and her baby, and a teenager — will be released back into nature, Yaya said.

“These three orangutans have not been given names and will be returned to the wild at the Kutai National Park tomorrow,” Yaya said on Thursday, adding that he will assist in the release.

He said the female and her infant were found not far from the teenager in a logged-out area between the timber estates of the two companies.

“At present, these orangutans are being temporarily given to the care of the Mulawarman University Tropical Forest Research Center in Samarinda and the plan is to release them in the evening,” he said.

The researcher said the three were among the hundreds of orangutans forced out of their habitat because of human encroachment in the forms of timber estates, palm oil plantations and mining operations.

He said that each concession had some 10 orangutans, and the number of concessions in the province was in the hundreds.

Yaya said companies holding the concessions were responsible for rescuing orangutans forced out of their habitat but the assistance of experts was also necessary to capture the wild animals.

“It is not easy to capture an orangutan as specific skills are required. Mining, plantation or timber estate companies should set up special teams to directly handles orangutans found in their areas,” Yaya said

He added that those found should be released back into nature in protected forest areas, including national parks.

He said that to his knowledge, only three companies in East Kalimantan already had such teams. Besides Sumalindo Hutani Raya and Surya Hutani Jaya, both companies under the Sinar Mas Group, palm oil plantation operator Teladan Prima Sawit also had a team.

Such teams, he said, will prevent the slaughter of wild animals, referring to a case in Puan Cepak village in Kutai Kertanegara where plantation workers killed orangutans they found in their plantation.

“We also hope the people and companies no longer see these orangutans as a pest and a nuisance,” Yaya said.

Orangutans are found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. The population is declining as increasing stretches of their habitat are destroyed to make way for new plantation areas or illegal logging.

Experts say there are 50,000 to 60,000 (the Orangutan Conservancy believes there are as few as 40,000) orangutans remaining in the wild. Some 80 percent of them are in Indonesia and the remainder are in Malaysia.

Many conservationists have raised concerns that the country’s orangutans might 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 humans.

The WWF this week lamented the death of an orangutan that suffered burns in West Kalimantan.

The orangutan sustained burns after residents tried to drive him out of their plantation area on Sunday. Residents had sought help from the local Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) to tranquilize the animal but it escaped. The residents then fumigated the coconut tree where the ape was hiding, but the tree caught fire.

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 a pet, even after turning the creature over to the authorities.

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 set free this year.

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

This news article was written by Tunggadewa Mattangkilang and appeared in the Borneo Post Online. It can be read at: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/09/08/orangutan-trio-found-in-forest/#ixzz267JP3S7h

The title was edited by Tom at OC.

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