Some 500 to 800 Orangutans Trapped In Pematang Gadung

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Photo by Mering
By Alexander Mering

Approximately 500 to 800 orangutans (pongo pygmaeus) are trapped in an area of peat swamp forests in Pematang Gadung located at Ketapang District, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia.

For the past two years until now, most of the forest that are the corridors to the National Park and to other forest area are shrinking due to the expansion of palm oil plantations and gold mining activities.

Because of the deforestation, the orangutans are only wandering around the shrinking forest.
Project Manager for Foundation International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia, Karmele Liano Sanchez when met recently at the Rehabilitation Center Foundation IAR Indonesia told that it is the most populous data that they have identified, which is about 3.8 orangutans living in per square kilometer.

"Normally, the most populous data is just around 1.8 individuals in each square kilometer," she said.
Karmele is anxious and she has a good reason to feel so. She refers to a map prepared by FFI-Indonesia Programme-Ketapang, which shows the Pematang Gadung block area is continuing to shrink.
The map disclosed that out of 26.95 million hectares land block available, only about 14,377.52 hectares is still in ideal conditions.

This prompted the villagers of Pematang Gadung back in 2010 to request from the Indonesia's Minister of Forestry to turn the area into a Forest Village.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Ketapang Biodiversity Keeping, Abdurahman Al Qadrie dubbed the Pematang Gadung forests as the "Heart of Ketapang". Born and raises in the region, Abdurahman has been striving to conserve the area with his friends since 2007.

Then, in 2011, the U.S Agency for International Development-Indonesia Forest and Climate Support (USAID IFACS) included the Pematang Gadung land area as part of the Ketapang landscape.
Abdurahman said that not only the orangutans are threatened in Pematang Gadung, but the entire population those spread throughout the region in Ketapang and North Kayong districts.

"We regard these forests as our homes and unfortunately they are continuing to shrink due to human activities especially the expansion of oil palm plantations and gold mining that contributed to the deforestation.
"As a result, many orangutans have been killed and traded for the past 10 years," he said.

Tito P. Indrawan, the Field Director of Palung Foundation said that in Ketapang and North Kayong there were 17 cases of urangutans those have been successfully evacuated from January to November 2012.
"The graph continues to climb as a result of large-scale land clearing, both in the peat swamp forest and lowland where they are the most ideal and convenient for orangutans to live," he said.

The Ketapang Plantation Office recorded that some 54 oil companies have been operating within an area of 783,151 hectares.
While, the data retrieved from the Department of Mines showed that the mining companies pocketed around 78 exploration permits covering an area of 0.99 million hectares.

The mining license holders operated 56 production companies covering 196, 592.8 hectares and the total mining area covered in Ketapang alone reached up to 1.19 million hectares.
A botanist for the FFI-Indonesia Programme in Ketapang, Hanjoyo, who is locally well known as Aseng said that one of the suitable areas to release the orangutans is at Mount Tarak.

The area is located at the south of Mt. Palung in the village of Cali. In 2008, the FFI-Indonesia Programme Ketapang sent a survey team to study the botany, mammals, birds and hertology to the area.
According to Aseng, an area of 32,000 hectares has the same climatology like in the National Park located around the Mount Palung.

"We found a few numbers of forest encroacher cutting down the trees such as the hardwood and 'bengkirai' (high quality wood). However, the conditions are still ideal (there) to be the habitat for the orangutans.
"The area has sufficient food and nutrients available with a high tree density. There are at least 60 large trees with a diameter over 30 in each hectare. "In ideal conditions, the orangutans will eat fruits. But, if there is no fruits, they will eat small vertebrate, ants, bark and others," he said.

Labuan Times: Published on Friday, 27 December 2013 11:17