Bogor, West Java (ANTARA News) - Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the government was seriously committed to protecting wild life species such as orangutans.

"Whether they are individuals, companies or foreigners, the government will act firmly against anyone who injures or destroys wild life species. The sanctions for anyone found killing or trading in wild animals will be severe, they can be sentenced to up to ten years in jail," he said when met after opening the International Meeting of Indonesia Forestry Researchers (INAFOR) here on Monday.

He said two suspected killers of orangutans in East Kalimantan were arrested recently. Based on information from the two, the police had caught three other suspects.

"Therefore, no one must disturb orangutans. Any party involved be it a company or a foreigner in the violation of the law will be dealt with firmly," he said.

The minister said the government continued protecting wild animals in Indonesia.

So far his office had released six orangutans which are part of 40 others saved by the office from oil palm plantation land clearance.

He said the 40 animals would be released into the wild until 2015.

Based on IUCN Red list of 2002 edition orangutans in Kalimantan are categorized as endangered or rare animals. The number of the animal species in Central Kalimantan is around 31,300 heads.

According to experts` prediction, if conditions are not improving in ten years` time Indonesia may lose almost 50 percent of its present orangutan population.

A forest area in Hanau village in the sub-district of Hanau, Seruyan, was chosen to be the place for the release of the orangutans based on the results of a survey made in July 2007 by a research team from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture.

The area bordering with Tanjung Puting National Park is a peat land forest fit for an orangutan habitat.

The release of the orangutans was also supported by the Friends of Orangutan that helps with providing treatment of 330 orangutans in the International Foundation for Orangutan Care (OFI).

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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