Lawmaker calls on the police
to speed up orangutan probe

The police must accelerate the investigation into the alleged mass-killing of orangutans in East Kalimantan, lawmaker Didi Irawady Syamsuddin said on Saturday.

"Orangutans are not just wild creatures. They are rare animals, which have become one of the country's national symbols, as 90 percent of [the world's] orangutan population is in Indonesia," Didi said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post.

"The orangutan is also a world heritage species, which means its existance must be protected at all costs."

Earlier this week, the National Police announced they had formed a special detectives team to investigate the alleged killing of Morio orangutans, which allegedly occurred at an oil palm plantation in East Kalimantan's Kutai Kartanegara regency.

The plantation belongs to PT Khaleda Agroprima Malindo, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd.

The team was dispatched to the site last week, according to National Police spokesman, Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution.

Didi suggested that the killing of orangutans had been occurring for years. Orangutans are reportedly being butchered because they are considered a nuisance to palm plantations.

"Authorites must act immediately, otherwise our children and grandchildren will not see this animal ever again in the future," he said.

"The police must enforce the law and legally charge the culprits responsible without exception," he added.

The killings were revealed when a group of environmental workers found bones they suspected were the remains of orangutans.

Activists held rallies to protest the killings in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Tuesday, demanding that the President support the legal protection of orangutans.

Daniek Hendarto of the Center for Orangutan Protection said the police, as well as the Natural Resources Conservancy Agency (BKSDA), should charge the perpetrators under the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation and Ecosystem Law.

"There is already a great deal of evidence to support the investigation," he said.

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