Indonesia: Habitats of Sumatran animals continue to decline

Antara 10 Mar 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The habitats of Sumatran animals, including elephants, tigers, and orangutans, continue to decline due to illegal plantation activities inside the Leuser Ecosystem Zone, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), an international environmental group.

"Some recalcitrant companies are presumed to be illegally destroying the Leuser forest, and as a result, the important habitats of these wild animals are now in danger," Gemma Tillack, agribusiness campaign director of RAN, noted in her written statement received by Antara on Thursday.

The Leuser ecosystem, comprising intact tropical lowland rainforests, draped mountains, and steamy peatlands, has the most diverse and ancient wildlife ever documented in science, the environmental group stated on its official website.

The forest is the last place on earth where Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos, and sun bears still roam side by side, it added.

Located in the northern part of the Sumatran Island, which administratively belongs to the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, the Leuser ecosystem comprises the third-largest tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon forest in Brazil and Zaire forest in Africa.

According to an observation conducted by the group for a period of six months, illegal logging activities have been rampant in the provinces East Aceh Sub-district and have endangered the community living in the downstream areas.

The companys activities in the forest pose a major threat to the Sumatran elephants, as it could lead to an increase in human-wildlife conflict, the group pointed out.

The illegal activities in the forest also affect the farming activities of the nearby community and pose a threat to the animals health and well-being.

In 2016, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Acehnese governor had issued a moratorium order that halted logging activities, including on the authorized areas inside the forest, Tillack stated.

"As a result, plantation and logging activities inside the forest are illegal, and the government needs to intervene by canceling the work permits of the companies in Leuser," she added.

(Reported by Aditya Ramadhan/Uu. KR-GNT/INE/H-YH)

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