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Jakarta Post

Fires on mounts Arjuno, Welirang blamed on hunters

  • Aman Rochman

    The Jakarta Post

Malang, East Java   /   Tue, July 30, 2019   /   02:33 pm
Fires on mounts Arjuno, Welirang blamed on hunters Smoke from forest fires blanket Mount Sumbing in Central Java on Sept. 16, 2018. (Antara/Anis Efizudin)

Fire that engulfed the forests on Mount Arjuno and Mount Welirang in East Java over the weekend is being blamed on hunters who are accused of using the flames to push wild animals out of the woods.

Dedi Hadiana, the head of the protection and people empowerment unit of the R. Soerjo Forest Park, said according to his team’s initial investigation, the fire appeared to have been set by humans.

“The fire broke out outside of the hiking trails. We are still investigating it. There are plenty of wild animals living there, such as birds, deer and langur monkeys,” he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Fire that started in the forest on Mount Arjuno in East Java on Sunday around 9 a.m. was put out three hours later. The mountain is located on the border between Malang and Pasuruan regencies.

The main fire was on the western part of the mountain, while some smaller fires also appeared on the neighboring Mt. Welirang. Mounts Arjuno and Welirang are in one area and have joined hiking trails, he added.

The director of the Profauna NGO, Rosek Nursahid, said fires frequently broke out in the forests of the mountains in every dry season, particularly on Arjuno and Welirang. The two mountains cover a small part of the total forest area managed by the East Java Forest Agency.

“Based on our investigations in previous years, the fires are mostly caused by hunters. Sometimes they intentionally burn the trees. It’s the easiest way to force animals to go down the mountain,” Rosek explained.

“They are hunting for wild boars, deer and wild chickens. There are also some protected birds like the Javan eagles, black eagles, Javan langur, monkeys, leopards, black panthers and peacocks,” he added.

He said that hunters usually climb the mountain through tracks outside the hiking trails to avoid officers. They burn the trees and wait for the desired animals to leave their nests and then catch them.

Authorities have temporarily closed down the hiking trails on the mountains following the fire. (vla)