Indonesia commences int'l meeting on Orangutan conservancy

15:26, July 16, 2010      

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Indonesia is hosting a meeting which commenced on Thursday in Bali, attended by government officials, international wildlife experts and conservationists, aimed at saving Orangutans from extinction, local media reported here.

The International Workshop on Orangutan Conservation, which will run through Friday, is aimed at stabilizing the habitat and populations of both the Sumatran and Bornean subspecies by 2017, as well as completing a three-year-old rehabilitation program to release previously captive orangutans back into the wild by 2015.

Borneo Orangutan Survival foundation Chief, Bungaran Saragih, said on Wednesday that very little progress had been made toward either goal.

"First, there are still no visible signs of stabilization of orangutan habitats or their populations," Bungaran said.

"Second, the rehabilitation target is still far out of reach, because in the three years since the plan was announced, we haven' t seen a single individual released back into the wild," the former agricultural minister was quoted by the Jakarta Globe as saying.

There are an estimated 7,500 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, and some 45,000 of their Bornean cousins. The latter subspecies is categorized as endangered, while the former is critically endangered.

Orangutan expert Sri Suci Utami Atmoko, from Jakarta's National University, said that more needed to be done to protect the animals.

"There's this impression that only conservationists, scientists and the government should deal with orangutan conservation, but we want all stakeholders, particularly businesses, to contribute to the effort. The national action plan will never work otherwise," she said.

Harry Santoso, director of biodiversity at the Ministry of Forestry, conceded that the orangutan release program was "going rather slow," but blamed it on the dearth of institutions willing to contribute to the effort.

"It's going to be tough to meet the 2015 target because there aren't that many institutions in the country that deal with orangutan conservation," he said.

"That's why we're hoping for a breakthrough at this workshop," he added.



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