Indonesia: Three named suspects for feasting on orangutan in Kapuas

Jakarta Post 18 Feb 17;

The police have named three suspects for allegedly slaughtering, cooking and eating an orangutan after the endangered species was caught wandering around in an oil palm concession in Kapuas regency, Central Kalimantan.

Kapuas Police chief Sr. Comr. Jukiman Situmorang said on Friday that after 10 people had been taken in for questioning on Tuesday, investigators had decided to name three plantation workers, identified by their initials AY, 30, EMS, 39 and ER, 23, suspects.

“They [allegedly] killed the orangutan just to consume its flesh,” said Jukiman, adding that the police would not detain the suspects because the maximum penalty for the offense was not more than five years.

The case is believed to have occurred at an oil palm concession owned by PT Susantri Permai, part of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group, in Tumbang Puroh village, on Jan. 28.

The incident reportedly began when a worker was harvesting fruit before encountering and being chased by an agitated orangutan.

The worker later told the story to AY who then went out to hunt down the animal, where he purportedly killed it with an air rifle and machete. The animal was then taken by AY and his two colleagues EMS and ER to a nearby camp to be dined on.

(Read also: 10 held for slaughtering, cooking, eating orangutan)

“They’re just like pigs or deer, the orangutan was skinned, chopped up and cooked,” said an eyewitness who works at the plantation as a fruit harvester but refused to be named for safety reasons, on Tuesday.

Jukiman said the perpetrators could face up to five years in prison if found guilty under the law on biodiversity conservation.

Orangutans are under grave threat from their shrinking rainforest habitat due to illegal logging, land conversion and forest fires, as well as from poaching and climate change.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has adjusted its status for the species from “endangered” to “critically endangered”—one category before extinction.

The IUCN estimates that the number of Bornean orangutans has dropped by nearly two-thirds since the early 1970s and will further decline to 47,000 by 2025.

As orangutans keep losing their habitat, they are forced to roam into plantation areas in search of food, which can lead to them being killed.

“That’s why orangutans enter oil palm plantations [because these areas] used to be part of their habitat,” said Yaya Rayadin, an orangutan researcher at Mulawarman University in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, on Tuesday.

Orangutans are often deemed disruptive by palm oil companies as they like to eat leaves and young palm fruit bunches.

According to research in 2006, an orangutan can destroy 30 to 50 oil palms in a day.

“They are forced to eat [the fruit bunches] because they have no other options,” said Yatim, an environmental activist from Muara Wahau, East Kalimantan.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar was said to be enraged upon receiving the report and said the ministry would work closely with the police to ensure the perpetrators faced justice.

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