July 17, 2010

Indonesia Setting Aside Forest For Orangutans

An official said Friday that Indonesia will reserve thousands of hectares of forest in Borneo island for about 200 captive orangutans, which will be released in a conservation drive.

"A foundation has asked for a permit on about 86,000 hectares of forests in Kutai area in East Kalimantan (Borneo) to be used for orangutan conservation," forestry ministry secretary general Boen Purnama said.

Conservationists have been looking for large areas to try and release the apes as vast tracts of Indonesian jungle have been cleared for plantations and logging.

Purnama told AFP news that the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) asked for the space in the forests, which were formerly used for logging.

BOSF spokesman Nico Hermanu said "We expect to release about 190 out of 226 orangutans, which are being held in captivity in East Kalimantan, in the forests."

"Our hope is to release all orangutans in rehabilitation before 2015 to reach the government's target," Hermanu told AFP.

The government also said that it plans to attend an international meeting on orangutan conservation in Bali on Thursday.

"Conservation of orangutan habitat is a triple-win scenario," USAID Director for Indonesia Walter North said in a statement.

"It preserves endangered great apes, protects forest biodiversity, and sequesters large amounts of carbon to combat climate change," he said.

Experts say there are about 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, and 80 percent of them are in Indonesia and the rest are in Malaysia.


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