Sunday, August 05, 2012

Stop the slaughter, save orang utans in Borneo

Malaysian authorities have been urged to help stop the slaughter of orang utans in Borneo.

Environmental groups, who made the call in the wake of reports and photographs of orang utans being shot dead by plantation companies, urged Malaysia to work with Indonesian authorities to stop the killing.

According to a report in Britain's Daily Mail, oil palm plantation managements have resorted to shooting orang utans as part of "pest control" exercises to protect their crops.

This report followed earlier allegations that companies had offered bounties for the heads of orang utans in Borneo after blaming the animals for destroying their young palm trees.

In a phone interview with theSun, Chris Shepherd, the Southeast Asia deputy director of Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, said investigations should be carried out and the perpetrators brought to book.

The situation with species like orang utans is becoming more critical and need urgent attention, he said adding that although the quality of law enforcement in this area has improved, illegal killing of wildlife and illegal wildlife trade still go largely unpunished.

"The list of threatened species is getting longer, not shorter," said Shepherd.

"The killing of the orang utans by Malaysian oil palm companies damages the image of the country abroad and needs to be addressed by the Malaysian authorities." said Malaysian Animal Rights and Welfare Association president N. Surendran.

He urged the government to exercise its power to terminate the licences of plantation companies found to have killed orang utans.

Besides being endangered through such action by planters, orang utan face rapid depletion of their numbers due to rampant land clearing in areas of their natural habitat.

Non-governmental organisation Nature Alert said 300 orang utans have been killed over the last eight years due to expansion efforts by the palm oil industry.

Conservationists say the animals have had to encroach on the plantations because their own habitats have been destroyed.

The action of companies, including Malaysian enterprises, in the alleged "extermination" and burning of forests for the purpose of land clearing for plantations in Kalimantan, across the borders of Sabah and Sarawak have also been highlighted by NGOs.

Continue reading at: Stop the slaughter, save orang utans in Borneo