The Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia, part of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, has been given permission by the Indonesian government to release over 600 orangutans into thousands of acres of land. There had been no releases of orangutans from their animal facility for the last nine years. The new releases will take place in East and Central Kalimantan in Borneo through 2015. East Kalimantan has experienced a boom in logging, coal mining, forest products and petroleum production. The logging and mining have caused habitat loss for orangutans, so much so that even the newly released orangutans will go to lands that have already been logged, although some areas were replanted with trees in 2002. The Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia will have to pay $1.4 million dollars for 60 years for the orangutans to live on the lands where they will be released.
East Kalimantan has 10 percent of the world’s wild orangutans and some of the last remaining stretches of undeveloped wild areas in Indonesia. Organizations like The Nature Conservancy are trying to preserve both the wild habitats and orangutans.
Mismanagement of forests can increase the risk of rampant fires. Millions of acres of land burned in Indonesia in 1997, with thousands of fires in East and Central Kalimantan.
“Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Illegal deforestation is currently rife, and the loss of government revenue associated with this illegality has been estimated at $US 100 million in East Kalimantan alone,” said researcher Maria Monica Wihardja, CSIS. (Source: EastAsiaForum)
Another threat to orangutans is illegal capture for the pet trade. According to a recent PBS article, Taiwan is the leading illegal importer of orangutans for use as pets. Borneo orangutans are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered due to an estimated population decline of about 50 percent over the last 60 years. A research study from last year found they are the most energy efficient primates.
Image Credit (East Kalimantan): Aidenvironment