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Indonesia: Rescue of starving orangutans highlights conservation plight

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Starving orangutan, Indonesian Borneo (image: IAR Indonesia)

Starving orangutan, Indonesian Borneo (image: IAR Indonesia)

Footage of starving orangutans in West Kalimantan on Indonesian Borneo shows the wanton destruction of the great ape’s dwindling habitat in the pursuit of wealth.

Despite being a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), Bumitama Gunajaya Agro violated the rules of the organization by depriving orangutans and other endangered species of their homes and food through deforestation. International Animal Rescue and conservation staff from the Indonesian government have already rescued four starving orangutans from the palm oil plantation. They will be moved to areas of forest with more food.

From a press release by International Animal Rescue (IAR):

We know that there are more orangutans isolated in small patches of forest in this plantation along with other protected wildlife such as proboscis monkeys. All the animals in this plantation are under threat and therefore this company should stop all land clearing immediately, carry out habitat assessments and develop strategies to protect all the endangered wildlife in their estate.

–Adi Irawan, Program Director, IAR Indonesia

Footage of the rescue operation shows the shocking condition of the starving orangutans.

In related news, conservation officials rescued two Sumatran orangutans in a village in Aceh. Many orangutans have been pushed out of their habitat in the Rawa Tripa peatland region of Aceh due to the construction of palm oil plantations.

From the Jakarta Globe:

Under such conditions, the orangutans can’t find sufficient amounts of food, so they starve to death. Sometimes, they are even murdered by locals or plantation workers.

–Ian Singleton, director, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program

Despite laws designed to protect the species, much of the struggle seems to depend on NGOs and volunteer conservationists. One such group is the Orangutan Project, founded by Australian Leif Cocks, who, together with local volunteers and other orangutan groups, patrols the jungles of Sumatra and Borneo in order to “deter wildlife poaching, illegal logging and land clearing in Indonesia”. This is a dangerous job and according to Cocks, a member of his team dies in the line of duty nearly every year. Read more on that story onnews.com.au.

The growth of palm oil plantations is largely fuelled by the biodiesel, food and cosmetic industries, owned by multinational corporations like Nestle and Unilever, who pump palm into every product they can.

Check out similar stories of starving and abused orangutans from Science Daily and theDaily Mail.

Orangutan family in Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan, Borneo. (image: Russ Watkins (Flickr CC))

Orangutan family in Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan, Borneo. (image: Russ Watkins (Flickr CC))

[source : http://asiancorrespondent.com/104391/indonesia-rescue-of-starving-orangutans-highlights-conservation-plight/]

Perry’s journey – a tale of two sites

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Before posting my trip to Krabi with friends, let me share the amazing journey of Perry Gan to north Sulawesi for underwater scuba diving trip. Perry is a friendly and nice guy I know and also an amateur photographer and diver (that was what he told me humbly, though he just got his PADI master diver qualification). I met Perry in photonian‘s gathering and that was when he shared his interesting diving experiences and underwater photos he took. After having chat with him, I discovered that Perry is also a nature lover and always encourages others to protect nature and preserve life.

Two weeks ago when I met Perry again, he shared some underwater photos he took during scuba diving. Those shots are really fascinating. So I made a request to post his photos sharing with other friends and he agreed. More to that, he also shared with me this tale of the two sites (Bunaken and Lembeh) in northern Sulawesi of Indonesia which he experienced. This is the story of a wonderful marine park, some interesting people and a remarkable adventure:

Surface Interval: 3rd Row: See Hian and Greg 2nd Row: Tee, Lee, Helen, Siong, Teng, Perry, Jack. 1st Row: Lily, Ginn and Loy

Surface Interval: 3rd Row: See Hian and Greg 2nd Row: Tee, Lee, Helen, Siong, Teng, Perry, Jack. 1st Row: Lily, Ginn and Loy

North Sulawesi has long been hailed as one of the finest dive destinations our world has to offer. Being a rookie I had come to this place with a brimful of dreamy images conjured up from the centerfolds of diving magazines. Wanting nothing more than to bookmark the flora and fauna; and to put ticks next to images in fish ID books, I ended up getting much more than what I had hoped for. I returned with a very different outlook on the reefs and the sea and now consider myself a convert as well as a macro aficionado.

Spinecheek Anemone fish

Spinecheek Anemone fish

Bunaken and Lembeh, are definitely more than meet the eyes. These are places where the incredible and unusal come together. It is perhaps premature and presumptuous for a newbie to crown this place with such superlatives, not having been to that many dive destinations around the world. I, however, found it simply impossible not to be in awe of the grace and diversity of the sea. What I saw and experienced had enriched me as a diver, as well as made me a human being much more appreciative of the world he lives in. Here is an account of my “fun-tabulous” and “muck-elicious” trip…

Back in May 2008 when I confirmed going on this trip, I had only logged about 50 dives. While in Redang, Tee took me to Sandy Bottom to do my first muck dive. That particular dive yielded many surprises. Apart from the sighting of a pretty sea horse, there was also a tiny painted frog fish, apparently a first in Redang. I was also made acutely aware that buoyancy skill was the determining factor to a good muck dive. A good “honing” session with Tee during that trip proved invaluable.

I later found out that I was actually going with a bunch of “old salts” with an average of 300 dives under their belts. Although a little concerned about how I would measure up, this bunch of “EAD”s proved my worries unfounded and were in fact lots of fun to be with. (EAD: an acronym only known to this particular group, should hopefully be explained to me on my next trip to Anilao.)
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