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| September 4th, 2008

Rspo Main Threat To Orangutans

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Jakarta, September 4th, 2008

GAPKI rejection of a proposed moratorium on forest and peatland  
conversion is a serious threat to the existence of orangutans (Pongo  
Pygmaeus) in Kalimantan. GAPKI’s argument that the criteria and  
principles for sustainable palm oil production have been sufficiently  
set forth by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) does not  
guarantee that palm oil companies will not harm orangutans and their  

“The fact is that there is no proven link between RSPO guidelines and  
forest clearing for oil palm plantations. While the criteria and  
principles for environmentally friendly oil palm plantations are  
regularly discussed and revised in every RSPO annual meeting, forest  
is continually cleared and orangutans are killed in every single year  
by members of RSPO. This is ironic”, said  Novi Hardianto, Habitat  
Program Manager from Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP)

Recent investigation by COP in concession area of Agro Group and IOI  
Group, both are members of RSPO, in Kotawaringin Timur District in  
Central Kalimantan Province found that both companies had cleared the  
forest and caused harm to orangutans. Between 2006-2007, at least 50  
orangutans had to be evacuated from the concession area of PT. Agro  
Bukit by a joint rescue team from Department of Forestry and Borneo  
Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation. Agro Bukit Ltd., a subsidiary of  
Agro Group is a member of RSPO since August 18th, 2006. Rather than  
letting the orangutans to be killed as they frighten the plantation  
workers and are often seen as pest, evacuation is the best option so  
far. In May 4th, 2007, investigators had got evidences of an orangutan  
mother who was captured by Agro Bukit workers and confined inside a  
wooden box. This orangutan mother was severely injured on her head and  
was likely attacked using hoe. Regrettably, Department of Forestry  
hardly could do anything to enforce the law towards the persons or  
management responsible for this cruelty. Ironically, Department of  
Forestry had received 60 millions rupiah from Agro Group to fund its  
Workshop on Orangutan Action Plan held in Palangka Raya on August 12th  
– 13th, 2008. This workshop was an initiative of USAID funded- 
Orangutan Conservation Service Program (OCSP).

Coincidentally, Agro Wana Lestari  Ltd, another subsidiary of Agro  
Group, had cleared the forest in Kuala Kuayan, Central Kalimantan. Its  
concession area bought from the Indonesian Government encompasses  
20000 hectares of forest. Between August 2nd-7th, 2008 COP volunteers  
together with 14 local people have documented the biodiversity in the  
area around Bukit Sentuai - Kuala Kuayan. The team found nests,  
footprints, food remains and sounds indicating the presence of rare  
and protected wild animals such as orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), sun  
bear (Helarctos malayanus), Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) , Borneo gibbon  
(Hylobates muelleri) and Bornean Slow Loris or coucang  (Nycticebus  
menagensis). It is therefore questionable that there was no report  
from the company indicating the presence of orangutans and other wild  
animals to BOS Foundation and Department of Forestry as the company  
had cleared the forest in the area around Bukit Sentuai ie. Kaminting,  
Tilap, Tanahluan, Penyahuan, Sapia, Tewamara dan Tumbang Panyang  
villages. Bukit Sentuai has been regarded as a sacred area according  
to local Dayak culture.

Still in the Kotawaringin Timur District, IOI Group is also  
continually cleared the forest for its expanding oil palm plantation.  
During the fifth RSPO annual meeting in Kuala Lumpur on November 18th,  
2007, a rescue team of BOS Foundation and Department of Forestry were  
untiringly evacuated the remaining orangutans in the concession area  
of Karya Makmur Bahagia Ltd., a subsidiary of IOI Group in Antang  
Kalang, Central Kalimantan. The rescued orangutans were then  
transferred to another forest area which had not been yet cleared and  
designated as the company protected area. But the facts spoke  
differently, as in July 2008 BOS Foundation and Department of Forestry  
had to re-evacuate the orangutans because their newly habitat was also  
cleared off for new oil palm plantations area.

In conclusion, COP observes that RSPO has become a tool to deceive the  
public and legitimize the environmental crimes committed by oil palm  
companies towards orangutans and their habitats. Allowing this would  
make COP prediction, that orangutans outside conservation area in  
Central Kalimantan would be extinct in the next 3 years, to become a  

For additional information, please contact:

Habitat Program Manager
Mobile: (0062) 0819 817911

Notes for Editors:

Based on Population and Habitat Viability (PHVA) 2004, the total  
population of orangutans in Kalimantan is 54567. With the extinction  
rate of 9% a year or 5325 orangutans a year, the total number of  
orangutans in 2008 would be 37 275. Particularly in Central  
Kalimantan, there were 31300 orangutans in 2004.  With the extinction  
rate of 9% a year or 2817 orangutans a year, the total number of  
orangutans in 2008 would be 20032.  From this number, there are 8631  
orangutans live outside conservation areas which are often under  
threat and their habitats could be destroyed for oil palm plantation  
at anytime. With the extinction rate of 2,817 orangutans a year,  
orangutans living outside conservation area will be extinct from the  
wildlife within the next 3 years.
GAPKI Executive Derom Bangun, in a meeting initiated by Greenpeace  
South East Asia in Jakarta, Selasa (26/8) stated ”We do not need to  
join the moratorium, the more important is to protect the environment  
according to RSPO principles”.




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