Webinar Series “Managing the Remaining Forests” Series #17. Protecting the Archipelago’s* Animals (*Java and Sumatra)

Webinar Series “Managing the Remaining Forests” Series #17. Protecting the Archipelago’s* Animals (*Java and Sumatra)

Indonesia - 16 May, 2021

Managing the remaining forest also means managing biodiversity including wildlife, especially the types that are now increasingly rare or even endangered, such as elephants, tigers and rhinos. According to Wiratno, Director General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem (KSDAE), Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), various types of protected mammals are also found outside conservation areas, such as in production forest, in oil palm plantation, in rubber plantation, in industrial plantation forest (HTI), and so on. "We are challenged beyond the boundaries of protected areas," he said in the 17th Tropenbos Indonesia webinar series "Managing the Remaining Forests" entitled "Protecting the Archipelago's Animals" which took place on Saturday, 31 April 2021.

 So far, according to Wiratno, many protection efforts have been carried out by the government, starting from patrols and security, conflict mitigation, monitoring and increasing animal population, saving animal by moving to its original habitat, releasing rehabilitated animal into its natural habitat, or repatriating animal to its place of origin. "Now even the government is thinking about controlling wild animals, especially those of the national pride, like what the Chinese government has done with Pandas," he said.

The government's efforts in protecting wildlife include asking the private sector to ensure that there are no snares in their concession area, because the impact on entangled animals can be devastating. "We also get support from Garuda for the transportation of wild animals for free when repatriating to places that are traversed by the Garuda flight route," said Wiratno. In addition, Wiratno said, the directorate he leads also continues to provide circular letters to various parties including delivery services such as JNE, TIKI, etc., so that they can report any suspicious shipment to the authorized party. KSDAE also has a call center to receive reports from the public.

Even though the current trend of illegal wildlife trade is decreasing, Wiratno reminded that the cases still exist so that efforts to stop those cases must continue. "The efforts must be massive and continuous," he confirmed. The massive efforts involve various initiatives and technological innovations, and have shown a number of successes such as the fully protected condition of the Rhino in Ujung Kulon with the current population of 74; 4 of them were born in 2019-2020, and the increase number of Bali Starling population through natural and semi-natural breeding in West Bali National Park. The movement and support from the community in protecting wildlife could also be seen through the phenomenon of citizen science with the publication of the Atlas of Indonesian Birds, which involved the assistance of no less than 1,000 contributors.

One of the institutions involved in supporting the rescue of endangered species in Indonesia is SINTAS (Save the Indonesian Nature and Threatened Species), which until now has focused on the conservation of wild cats, the Sumatran Tiger, and the Javan Leopard. According to Hariyo T. Wibisono, Director of SINTAS Indonesia, the incomplete data on the Sumatran Tiger landscape means that the conservation efforts are not yet optimal. To contribute to the gap, SINTAS has conducted a number of studies including the identification of the presence and distribution of the Sumatran Tiger which turns out to be in 23 landscapes in Sumatra. "In 2007-2009, we conducted a 'Sumatra wide tiger survey' to generally determine not only where they are but also the distribution patterns," said Hariyo.

SINTAS usually starts his activities by conducting a survey of animal population and occupancy, which is followed by a survey of animal connectivity or corridor, and a study of animal movements. SINTAS has also conducted studies on the distribution and habitat of Javan Leopards and other key animals in Java Island and assisted in the management of Javan Leopards in Meru Betiri National Park. In addition, SINTAS is also active in communicating validated knowledge from papers that have been published, especially for Javanese Leopards, publishing articles through social media, and giving expositions through webinars.

In terms of hunting and exploiting wild animals, according to Dwi N. Adhiasto, the Advisor of Yayasan SCENTS Indonesia, since a long time ago there have been parties who have traded and used animal body parts such as tiger bone powder or whale secretions which were said for medicinal purposes. The existence of this market demand makes the hunting and distribution of illegal wildlife continues and is currently ranked third in the world with a value of US$23 billion per year, involving thousands of endangered species of animals and plants. "Indonesia is one of the sources of wildlife as well as a market," said Dwi.

According to Dwi, the various modus operandi of the wildlife trade is quite organized so that the authorities often unable to detect. This organized crime is transnational and transcontinental, and usually involves other crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering activities. "The results of the Pangolin trade are covered up by fictitious companies as a camouflage," said Dwi.

The rampant hunting and circulation of this wildlife can be motivated by a variety of motives, ranging from entertainment, hobbies, lifestyle, status, or prestige, alternative income, although some do it as a professional business; there are also reasons for revenge such as in Sumatra, where the residents sell elephant ivory as the result of resentment, or for the purposes of a religious tradition where ceremonies use certain wild animal as symbol.

Some of these wildlife traffickers, especially those at the site level, admit that they do not know there should be permits to obey. They admit that they do not know about hunting permits, quarantine permits, and so on. These low-level actors are hunters and collectors at the local level who carry out the transactions in a simple (cash) manner. These groups are multi-ethnics. Meanwhile, at the middle to upper level, there is monopoly and control by a single ethnicity (family) because they rely heavily on the element of trust. They also not only sell illegal goods but also legal, on a trans-national scale and include other activities such as financial crime, layering / shell companies.

Dwi reminded that in the midst of a pandemic like this time, wildlife trade transactions were also taking advantage of online transaction opportunities. Transactions that can be carried out by transfer, do not require a physical shop, and can use expedition / cargo services so that the perpetrator feels safer because the chances of being detected by the authorities are smaller. For this reason, efforts to enforce the law by the government need to be tightened. "The use of technology is very important for disclosure," Dwi said.

The presentations available for download HERE.

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