I have been working on an independent project where I have been evaluating a series of protected areas around the world that are home to a variety of species of primates. I am doing so to evaluate what exactly is going wrong in these parks in comparison to some protected areas that are not overrun with illegal hunting, logging and development. One of the ‘parks in peril’ that I am examining is the Aceh Protected Forest. This forest is in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra which is being degraded at an alarming rate. Take a look at some of the information I’ve found:
Primate Species in Aceh:
According to Orang Utan Republik Foundation, an educational conservation foundation working to preserve Indonesia’s endemic wildlife there are roughly 13 species of primate found in Borneo, all of which reside in the Aceh National Forest. The species known are: Pongo abelii (Sumatran orangutan), H ylobates larvestitus (white- handed gibbon), H ylobates agilis (agile gibbon), Symphalangus syndactylus (Siamang), N asalis larvatus (proboscis monkey), Macaca nemestrina (pig tailed macaque), Presbytis rubicunda (maroon langur), M acaca fascicularis (long tailed macaque), T rachypithecus cristatus (silvery lutung), Presbytis thomasi (Thomas’s Langur), Presbytis melalophos (Sumatran surili), N ycticebus coucang (Sunda slow loris), and T arsius bancanus (Horsfield’s tarsier).
A Description of the Protected Forest:
The Aceh Protected Forest takes up about 3,795,180 ha. It is considered to be the most bio- logically diverse location in Asia Pacific, although hundreds of hectares are being cut down daily to make way for international palm oil companies, mining companies, and to be used for paper. The forests are home not only to the endangered Sumatran orangutan, but also the Sumatran orangutan, Javan rhino, and the Sumatran elephant. But even with the vast amount of endangered species found already millions of hectares have been cut down and the Indonesian government is threatening to strip 1.2 million hectares of the forest of it’s protected status.
A Description of the Economic Status of Indonesia:
Indonesia is the third largest democracy in the world, behind India and the United States of America. It’s population is about 241 million people with a $1.1 trillion GDP. Industry makes up 47% of the GDP compensation with Indonesia’s main industries being petroleum, min- ing, and rubber. The country also relies heavily on its agricultural exports including palm oil, which is the most detrimental to the forests of Indonesia. 90% of Indonesia’s rain forests have been cleared for palm oil plantations.
Causes of Deforestation in Aceh:
According to WWF about 12 million hectares in the last 22 years has been cleared to make way for mining, palm oil and other industrial uses in Sumatra. Tengku Anwar, the head of the Aceh parliamentary committee, is in full support to strip 1.2 million hectare of it’s pro- tected status. Several international companies, such as the the Canadian mining company East Asian Minerals, are seeking approval to devastate the environment to mine for miner- als. Over the last few years the Indonesian government has denied several permits to log within the forests, but the new administration is more pro-logging. Although a decision has not yet been reached, the threat to the forest is still eminent.
The deforestation and creation of industrial areas within the boarders of the forest is harmful in a variety of ways. Not only is the natural environment of the endangered species endemic to Indonesia being destroyed, but the human traffic encourages the pet trade, bushmeat trade and pest killing. Many of the native primate species are seen as pests to palm oil plantations and are killed or sold into the pet trade.
Other Threats to Primates in Aceh:
Although primate species like the Sumatran orangutan are protected by laws that make it illegal to own, kill or capture the species, 2012 was the first time a Sumatran citizen was ever persecuted for selling and trading orangutans. The lack of law enforcement is one of the largest threats to primates popular in the pet trade, like the slow loris, gibbon and orangu- tan. Because they are such popular pets, and government officials themselves own the pri- mates, those laws are often the last to be enforced.