The adult female orangutan was discovered by a maintenance worker on December 3 at the Barunang Miri Estate run by PT Surya Inti Sawit Kahuripan (SISK), an oil palm company that is a subsidiary of the Makin Group.
She was taken to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) rescue centre in Nyaru Menteng, where vets determined that she had 40 shotgun pellets in her body. The orangutan had broken arms and legs, one of her arms was decomposing, and she was extremely thin because of malnutrition. Vets operated on the orangutan, but were unable to save her.
In its petition on change.org, the group Palm Oil Consumer Action calls on Indonesia’s new Minister for Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, to take all appropriate action against the Makin Group, which, the petition states, “has been found by multiple organisations to repeatedly kill orangutans and illegally clear orangutan habitat in violation of Indonesian law”.
The group calls on the Indonesian government “to investigate and prosecute all persons involved in the illegal killing of the orangutan found in Central Kalimantan on December 3, 2014”.
It further asks the government to commit to ensuring that all crimes against orangutans are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The petition is also addressed to the chairperson of the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) commission, Rosediana Suharto.
Environmentalists say this month’s killing is not an isolated incident. “The Makin Group has a long history of killing endangered orangutans and illegally destroying orangutan habitat for palm oil,” the petition states.
The petition further states that, on July 24, 2011, a buried orangutan with a severed arm was documented on a plantation owned by the Makin Group in East Kalimantan.
The BOS Foundation says it has rescued 166 orangutans from plantations owned by the Makin group. BOS Foundation spokesman Monterado Fridman said 100 of the orangutans have been successfully translocated into protected forests in the surrounding areas, but 19 have died. “Forty-seven are still being cared for by the BOS Foundation in Nyaru Menteng. Forty-four of them are releaseable and awaiting their turn to return to the wild, and three will not be able to be released and will have to remain in Nyaru Menteng for the rest of their lives.”
Orangutans are officially protected by the Indonesian Law No. 5/1990. Conservation efforts are detailed in the Strategy and Action Plan for Indonesian Orangutan Conservation 2007-20017, launched by the country’s former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007. Any person who is found guilty of killing orangutans can be sentenced to imprisonment and fined.
However, the primates are now seriously endangered and risk extinction in some areas of Indonesia, particularly northern Sumatra.
Fridman said the orangutan killed this month was was “one more victim of the conflict between the oil palm industry and wildlife”.
The director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), Ian Singleton, said such cases were all too common for those working to save orangutans in Indonesia. “This is the standard way that orangutan mothers and others are routinely killed here. They are shot, beaten, clubbed, macheted and speared, and a few ‘lucky’ infants manage to survive this and end up as illegal pets; and there are hundreds of those each year.”
Michelle Desilets from the UK-based Orangutan Land Trust (OLT) said: “It is against the law to capture, harm, or kill an orangutan, but the law is seldom enforced.
“It’s vital that we support legal efforts to protect orangutans and their habitat and work to try to ensure that the law is enforced and violators are prosecuted.”