An environmental catastrophe continues in the forests of Aceh province and other forests throughout Indonesia. Palm oil companies have continued their slash and burn techniques, leaving wildlife without the ecologies they rely on, or worse. The multinational conglomerates that make up the palm oil industry are operating illegally, flying in the face of National Law, and killing off an international treasure, the Sumatran orangutan. The Aceh region is particularly important. It is home to the densest population of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, one of the few ape species alive today. Conservationists have estimated that over half of the orangutans found in the forests in Aceh province have already perished, some burning to death in the fires used to clear swamps for palm oil plantations. The remaining orangutans will almost certainly go extinct, if something isn't done.
As a Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University and Director of the Hominid Behavior Research Project I have worked in forests around the world on issues of ape conservation for over fifteen years. I was fortunate to spend time in on the island of Java, Indonesia in 1999, working to save the Javan gibbon. As a result, I am very familiar with the complexities, challenges and immediacy of this situation. If something is not done, right away, the Sumatran orangutan and critically endangered populations of elephants, tigers and rhinos will disappear off the face of the earth forever.
This latest move by Indonesia's local elected officials to destroy habitat for profit threatens to eradicate an entire ecosystem, flies in the face of Indonesian law and demands international action. The Sumatran orangutan is a world heritage species and an international treasure. To knowingly and willfully threaten its existence is contrary to International Law, and requires action by the United Nations, much the same as a humanitarian or natural disaster crisis would.
With your help we can deliver 10,000 signatures to Executive Director Achim Steiner of the UNEP and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, calling on them to intervene on behalf of the Sumatran orangutan. The UN and the Indonesidan government should work together to send environmental and conservation inspectors to Indonesia to monitor the spaital and planning committees activities regarding areas critical to the survival of the Sumatran orangutan and the other animals in their habitats.