Forest fires in 2019 exacerbated orangutan-human conflicts

Forest fires in 2019 exacerbated orangutan-human conflicts

Personnel of IAR Indonesia and West Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Office (BKSDA) released two orangutans into Sentap Kancang forest in Ketapang District. (photo: special/h-fdh)

Pontianak, West Kalimantan (ANTARA) - The number of orangutan-human conflicts tended to increase since the forest fires razing Kalimantan’s forests last year, according to data of the Orangutan Protection Unit (OPU) of International Animal Rescue (IAR) Indonesia.

"Until the start of this year, human-orangutan conflicts showed no sign of decrease," IAR Indonesia Field Manager Argitoe Ranting noted in a statement here on Wednesday.

In fact, earlier this year, the joint team of the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the West Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and IAR Indonesia managed to rescue two orangutans -- a female orangutan and her baby -- from a community-owned garden in Ketapang, Sungai Awan Kiri Village, Muara Pawan Sub-district, Ketapang District, West Kalimantan.

The rescue team received information on the two orangutans on January 4, 2020. The team rescued them and promptly sent the orangutans to a nearby forest.

However, on January 8, 2020, the orangutans returned to the garden. Hence, the team decided to relocate them to the Sentap Kancang forest, some five kilometers from Ketapang.

The orangutans underwent a medical checkup and were declared healthy before being moved to the Sentap Kancang forest, spanning some 40 thousand hectares.

Moving orangutans to other locations is merely a temporary solution, since the actual problem has arisen from the destruction of orangutan habitats, he stated.

Due to major forest fires, especially in August last year, orangutans have lost their habitats and were compelled to trespass into the local people's gardens in search of food, he explained.

"Orangutans abandoned their scorched habitat and entered the people's gardens in search of food, thereby resulting in a high number of human encounters that often lead to conflicts that could harm orangutans and humans," he pointed out.

Meanwhile, Head of West Kalimantan BKSDA, Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta, stated that several conservation efforts had been made, both by the government and with partners. However, new challenges and problems continue to crop up.

Director of IAR Indonesia, Karmele L Sanchez, stated that the conflict arose as orangutans had lost their habitat that was once home to them. Orangutans are searching for food in the people's gardens out of compulsion since their habitats were destroyed.

"We are highly concerned to see how these orangutans try to survive, as their habitats being increasingly destroyed. We hope humans would realize that without forests, the survival of not only orangutans but also humans is at stake and also face similar consequences," he added. Related news: Kalimantan wildfires force orangutans to trespass on residential areas
Related news: Eight orangutans released in C Kalimantan forest

 

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