Orangutans Killed for Meat in Kalimantan, Report States

03rd Nov 2011 Press Releases

A conservation report states that 691 endangered orangutans were killed in Borneo during a recent 17-month period – many for meat, and some at the behest of palm oil companies – with any babies captured alive sold into the pet trade.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) coordinated the report, which was supported by GRASP partners such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), among others, and involved a survey of 698 villages across Kalimantan.

TNC program manager Neil Makinuddin said 70 percent of the respondents knew that orangutans were a protected and endangered species when they hunted the animals.

The orangutans were killed for several reasons, said Suci Utami Atmoko, a field coordinator for the report.  “Some [residents] were desperate and had no other choice after spending three days hunting for food,” she said.

Local residents also killed the orangutans for safety reasons, Suci said, harvesting orangutan meat to make traditional medicine and selling any surviving orangutan babies.

The survey was conducted between April 2008 and September 2009 and involved 6,972 respondents across Kalimantan.

Decisions to open land in Kalimantan to development have not considered orangutans, leading to the destruction of their habitat, Neil said.

“We must soon open conservation areas for orangutans or their population will become extinct,” he said, adding that the government should punish orangutan killers.

Erik Meijaard, forest director of People and Nature Consulting International, said Kalimantan’s orangutans would become extinct if 1 percent of female orangutans were killed in a year. “Uncontrolled killing will soon diminish their population.”

Forestry Ministry species conservation chief Agus SB Sutito said the ministry had yet to receive reports about the rapid killing of orangutans in Kalimantan.

“We gladly welcome the results of the survey,” he said. “The ministry will work harder to enforce the law.”
There are currently 40,000 to 65,000 orangutans in Kalimantan, although the number was rapidly decreasing due to habitat loss, according to the WWF.

The government previously set a target of raising the populations of 14 endangered species, including orangutans, by up to 3 percent by 2020.