The Jakarta Post
Conservationists from the Aceh Orangutan Forum (FORA) have called on the central government to take stern measures against people who keep protected animals, such as orangutans, as pets.
They have urged the government, through the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) to immediately confiscate orangutans kept by recreational parks as illegal pets.
'The government should immediately confiscate the protected animals from the hands of incompetent people in Aceh,' said FORA activist Azhar recently.
He said the government's indecisiveness in legal matters had significantly contributed to wildlife poaching in Aceh. If the situation continued he added, there were concerns that endangered wildlife species, such as tigers, orangutans and rhinoceros could die out.
'This year alone, several tigers and orangutans have been killed due to poaching in various locations, especially in protected forests near human settlements,' said Azhar.
Despite the keeping and displaying of stuffed tigers and other animals being against the law, the government has done little.
'We often inform the public that poaching or keeping protected animals violates the law but the campaigns seem not to be in tune with the government law enforcement efforts,' said Azhar.
Many people are unaware that poaching protected animals is against the law. As well as poaching, rare animals such as orangutans are frequently kept in recreational parks and private homes as pets. 'We have repeatedly urged the BKSDA to immediately seize and save the orangutans which have been kept as pets. However, the government is often late in confiscating the animals so the orangutans vanish or die,' said orangutan lover Retno.
She said the orangutan population was gradually dwindling due to rampant poaching as well as the conversion of forest into oil palm plantations, such as in Aceh Singkil, causing orangutans to lose their habitats. 'An example is the Rawa Tripa area which has been converted into plantations,' said Retno.
Around 400 orangutans are estimated to live in Aceh's vast forests. If the government fails to immediately protect the forests, it is feared this population will be endangered.
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