Orangutans In Indonesia Are Still Losing Their Forests Despite The Ban On Logging

Over a thousand "critically-endangered" Orangutans living in a tropical forest on Borneo island are about to have their homes unlawfully chopped down, environmental campaigners have warned.

Greenpeace claims that although Indonesian authorities ordered a halt to such activities just one year ago, their investigations have found at least six settlements still logging under the cover of darkness.

Orangutans in Indonesia are on the verge of extinction due to deforestation and poaching – and the endangered species continues to lose habitat as a result of corporate expansion (Photo: Ulet Ifansasti via Getty Images)

Cutting down trees in the 57-hectare (140,847-acre) forest, that is populated with as many as 1,200 Orangutans, is illegal thanks to a ban declared after massive dry season fires in 2015.

The fire, which destroyed 2.6 million hectares, showed the risks pulp-wood and palm oil companies had taken in draining the swampy peatlands for industrial plantations, making them highly combustible.

But a recent investigation by Greenpeace now stands as the second revelation in less than a year that commercial exploitation of the forest continues.

Drone footage and photos taken by activists shows a huge drainage canal full of water, heavy earth-moving equipment on the land and pulp-wood tree seedlings being planted.

This is despite an order in March from the Environment and Forestry Minister, Siti Nurbaya, for the company responsible to cease operations.

"This is a major embarrassment for the Indonesian government, which has consistently promised to protect Sungai Putri," Greenpeace Indonesia's Ratri Kusumohartono said.

"Excavators are still in place and now chainsaws are finishing the job," she writes, "the Government must uphold the law and ensure full and permanent protection of this beautiful and important forest."

Protecting the Sungai Putri forest is paramount to the survival of Bornean Orangutans. Scientists estimate that the population has halved in the past 16 years, falling from 230,000 to around 104,700.

“Habitat destruction forces orangutans to enter neighbouring plantations and farms looking for food and this frequently leads to conflict with humans," writes Karmele Llano Sanchez, Program Director of International Animal Rescue.

"Sungai Putri is home to one of the largest populations in the world and we are at a critical point for the Bornean orangutan –without forests like this they can’t survive."

Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com