January 17, 2007

WWF: Coffee Threatens Indonesian Animals

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Coffee beans exported to the West are being illegally grown inside an Indonesian national park, threatening the habitat of endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos, the WWF said Wednesday.

Around 19,600 tons of coffee from the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park on Sumatra Island are mixed with legally grown beans by local traders and exported each year, according to the global conservation organization.

"If this trend of clearing park land for coffee isn't halted, the rhinos and tigers will be locally extinct in less than a decade," Nazir Foead, WWF-Indonesia's Director of Policy and Corporate Engagement, said in a statement.

"We think even the world's most committed coffee drinkers will find this an unacceptable price to pay for their daily caffeine buzz."

WWF said several Western food and drink companies were buying the illegal beans.

The group said it had told the companies of its findings. Some denied buying the tainted coffee, while others were discussing how to avoid buying it in the future, the group said.

Bukit Barisan Selatan is one of the few protected areas where Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and Sumatran rhinos coexist. It is one of the most important habitats left for the three, all endangered or critically endangered species, the WWF said.

Indonesia is the world's second-largest exporter of robusta coffee, which is often used in instant coffee and packaged coffee sold in supermarkets.