Conversion of national park threatens orangutans and elephants

19.10.2016

Sumatran orangutan rescued by forest rangers after being kept as an illegal pet in the town of Kutacane, in Indonesia’s Aceh province Photo: Orangutan Information Center

NGOs affiliated with the Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) Rescue Coalition have urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to take immediate action to stop widespread illegal logging and forest conversion in the national park.

Coalition spokesman Panut Hadisiswoyo told the Jakarta Post and other media that widespread forest conversion in the park, in Aceh province, Indonesia, is being carried out to make way for plantations and settlements.

“The most severely deforested area is in Langkat regency where around 20 per cent of the national park area has been converted into plantations and settlements,” Panut said on Monday.

Panut, who is also director of the Orangutan Information Center, said the extensive forest conversion threatened the habitats of rare wildlife species in the park. He said 50 orangutans died each year due to the impacts of rampant illegal logging in TNGL.

Besides orangutans, he said, the Sumatran elephant is seriously threatened as only 500 remain in the park, 40 of which are in Langkat.

Analysis by Acehnese NGO HAkA has shown that the Leuser Ecosystem, which encompasses the TNGL and a broader landscape, lost 4,097 hectares of forest cover in the first six months of 2016.

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