Orangutans are roaming into villages in Sumatra – bad news

At first glance, you could look at this headline as good news – in most instances, wild animals do not start looking outside their habitat for places to live, unless there are too many and they are being forced out. However, they also start looking elsewhere when they struggle to find food where they are, or as a result of encroachment.

Tapanuli Orangutan mother with young – Image by Aditya Sumitra/Mighty Earth.

In this instance it is thought to be as a result of construction of a hydroelectric dam. Perhaps more alarming, these are the Tapanuli Orangutans, which only number 800 and which if this dam is completed, will lose most of their range.

As the 8th great ape, it may also be the first great ape pushed to extinction and in their case as a direct choice of the local authorities.

Workers strike as Indonesia increases fee to visit Komodo dragons is increase by more than 18 times to £205

As the largest lizard in the world the Komodo dragons hold a fascination for humans, as it is the only place where lizards still rule

The concern by those who work in tourism with the Komodo dragons seems quite justified. They fear that this enormous increase in price will put off people from visiting, and therefore completely destroy the tourism industry.

It should be noted that this is merely the fee to visit the islands, anything the guides charge is on top of that.

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In an effort to deal with encroachment into national parks Indonesia is trying a new policy

Many of the Indonesian forest reserves, have become paper parks, with much or most of the forestation and other vegetation lost. They clear land in the hope that they will eventually be given the title to the land to make their seizures legal.

Under their new program “conservation partnership”, the settlers acknowledge that they cannot claim the land, and they have to help restore the land to how it was before they damaged it. The are then allowed to remain on the land and cultivate traditional crops and harvest non timber products like rattan and honey – but importantly, not palm oil.

This model has grown, and now 177,000 hectares is under this form of management (about 700 square miles.

It continues to be a hard balance between the protection of the forest, and allowing the people who live in these areas (both native, and those who move from elsewhere), to be able to better their lives through work. If work exists that both benefits them and the ecosystem then this is likely to succeed.

New baby girl! Sumatran rhino born in captivity in a breeding centre in Sumatra

Today the Sumatran rhino is critically endangered. It is thought that not more than 80 exist in the wilds of Sumatra. Not particularly closely related to the Javan rhino, the Sumatran rhino once had a much larger range extending from foothills of the Eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and eastern India, through Myanmar, Thailand, possibly to Vietnam and China, and south through the Malay Peninsula. Indeed the Sumatran rhino is thought to have lost its last remaining mainland member as recently as 2015.

with only 80 remaining in the wild, and so far little success in captive breeding this baby Sumatran rhino is incredibly important Courtesy Indonesian ministry of environment and forestry

As a result, a breeding centre has been set up on Sumatra to create a captive population with which to boost the wild population.

Unfortunately, they have not done well. This calf is just the third born since the foundation of the centre – the centre was set up in 1996. There have only been another 3 calves born elsewhere in captivity.

As with other Sumatran wildlife, the Sumatran rhino has suffered the dual threats of loss of habitat and the fragmentation of what is left.

An arrested Sumatran politician – arrested for bribery, was found to have a pet Orangutan among a group of other exotic pets

There is a great deal of corruption in many parts of the world. In many places politicians are almost expected to give themselves extra benefits – indeed those who do not, are often quite notable for standing out.

In this case, after arresting the politician his house was raided, when the animals were found.

Keeping wild animals as pets can carry a 5 year jail sentence, in this case it must -he must not escape penalty for this
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Is the Javan tiger extinct?

There are still sizable areas of protected land in Java, and in 2017 a warden took the below photo.

Now it is hard to see it clearly, but to me I think it looks more like a leopard unfortunately

Now I am unsure about this picture but would be pleasantly pleased to be proved wrong.

If not, the Javan tiger is very similar to the Sumatran tiger. As such, with a recovery in the wild Sumatran population if a reserve is not suffering poaching, it would be possible to bring the tiger back to Java

Tiger doubling from 2010 aim review – Sumatra

Indonesia is a archipelago of islands. Once connected to the Asian mainland, animals were able to make their way along the peninsular. When sea levels rose in the ancient past they were marooned on the islands.

Once they were found on a few islands including Bali and Java. They are now only found Sumatra. Sumatra is thought to have 400 tigers in 2010. This is down from as many as 1000 back in 1978.

San diago zoo estimate the number remaining in the wild at 400-600, but I cannot find any reason for this higher band.

It is possible that the tiger population has increased a bit, but in certainly has not doubled.

Indonesias leading University has proposed classifying Palm oil as a forest crop – This is insane, read on to find more – urgent condemnation needed

This proposal would mean that Indonesia could cut down all its rainforest and replace them with Palm Oil, and would have engaged in zero deforestation.

Palm oil beside rainforest

This has to be condemned globally, There are myriad problems with this. The destruction of the rainforest would release billions of tonnes of carbon into the air. Palm oil, will be incapable of reabsorbing all this carbon. Furthermore, palm oil plantations support just a handful of species of wildlife, so this would mean the end of the orangutan Sumatran elephant, tiger leopard and rhino.

Thankfully, there are many voices within Indonesia which are already condemning this move.

At the moment, this idea is the thought of various extreme academics (and much of the government). If it were to find acceptance, we could see the wholesale destruction of the forests of Indonesia, an area of deforestation that would have a huge effect on the worlds attempts to mitigate global warming. Arguments that palm oil trees absorb carbon as well, are absurd, as they absorb a tiny proportion of the carbon that would be emitted.

Hopefully, this will remain a crackpot academic idea, and a governmental daydream and never be put into place. We must be vigilant that it isnt.

The Tapanuli Orangutan is still threatened with extinction, despite only recently being discovered

The Tapanuli Orangutan lives on Sumatra but are thought to be more closely related to Bornean Orangutans. Numbering around 800 members, they had a far wider ranging habitat until recently. They are now restricted to about 1000 square km – about 2.5% of their former range.

While looking very similar to other orangutans, this sub species has not interbred with any other orangutans for over 1 million years and despite living in Sumatra, are more closely related to the Borneo Orangutan

What is harder, is that these Orangutans are not naturally mountainous animals, but have been driven there by the hunting that has so decimated their numbers.

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