Webinar Series “Managing the Remaining Forests” series#20 Protecting Wildlife of the Archipelago

Webinar Series “Managing the Remaining Forests” series#20 Protecting Wildlife of the Archipelago

Indonesia - 05 July, 2021

Orangutan, but wildlife conservation in this area still faces various challenges. "Well, I don't consider it a problem but a challenge and the answer lies in the field," said Sadtata Noor Adirahmanta, Head of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), West Kalimantan, in the Tropenbos Indonesia webinar series "Managing the Remaining Forests” which this time covered the topic of “Protecting Wildlife of the Archipelago”. This webinar was held online on Saturday, July 3, 2021, attended by around 300 participants.

Giving a presentation entitled “Living side by side with wild animals. A New Idea for Wildlife Conservation”, according to Sadtata, the biggest challenges facing wildlife conservation today are, first, habitat disturbance due to interaction/contact with community activities such as fires, and others. Second, inappropriate practices such as hunting and trading, although actually pet lovers can enjoy the time with animals without confining them. Third, and the biggest challenge according to Sadtata is the mindset, both the mindset of conservationists and the mindset of the community.

People, for example, have always considered wild animal as monster as seen in the descriptions of several films such as Megadon, King Kong, Jurassic Park or Godzilla, so keeping wild animals is considered something cool or extraordinary. Meanwhile, conservationists still have the mindset of protecting, conserving and forbidding for other uses. "There has no further thoughts on how the implementation of conservation provides direct benefits to the community," he said. So that the forest can be maintained, wild animals remain free, but the community can still earn income.

Among the various wildlife cases encountered by BKSDA, according to the data presented by Sadtata, throughout 2020 alone, the results of operations such as arrests at airport posts, port posts, or patrol catches reached 97 cases. In addition, there were also 24 rescue cases based on community reports, and 34 cases were community submissions. To receive public reports related to wildlife cases, BKSDA also has a call center at 0811 577 6767.

Sadtata gave an example, people like to take care of a little bear, but when it grows bigger, they are afraid and hand it over to BKSDA whereas the fact is that after being kept for several years it is certainly unused to live in the wild. Another funny incident was when people caught a sunbathing crocodile in the river and handed it over to BKSDA. There was also a proboscis monkey swimming or a hornbill in a garden that was caught. "They have been already in their habitat, they shouldn’t be captured," he laughed. "This is the mindset of the community that we must change," he added.

One of the efforts made by BKSDA to change this mindset is to provide education to the community, especially students, develop ecotourism so that people protect their environment and at the same time earn income, develop nature reserve as citizen science, where people who enter the nature reserve are 'forced' to become researchers and whatever is photographed inside the nature reserve must be reported to the provided link of the community forum so that not only the people who are the guides get economic benefits, BKSDA also gets data.

Another strategy implemented by BKSDA is bioprospecting and building animal-friendly villages where animals can freely coexist with humans. Inspired by the Bird Tourism Village in Jatimulyo, Yogyakarta, where visitors can enjoy bird watching or bird photography and participate in a bird's nest adoption program, an animal-friendly village is now also being developed on Cempedak Island, West Kalimantan with the specialty of Dugong tourism. Sadtata emphasized that the future concept to be developed in the future is the coexistence between human and animals and no longer relocation of animals.

However, harmonious coexistence with wild animals is not always easy to implement because conflicts between humans and wildlife occur quite often. As stated by Tri Giyat Desantoro from the International Animal Rescue Indonesia Foundation (YIARI), the conflict between humans and orangutans also occurred in Ketapang and Kayong Utara. "These conflicts can occur because Orangutans experience fires, forest conversion, plantations, mining, and so on," explained Tri. There are three criteria of handling conflict, namely red if rescue action is needed as soon as possible, yellow if rescue action is possible, but mitigation, patrol and socialization actions are prioritized to communities in conflict areas, and green if rescue actions are not taken. These criteria will determine the next handling action.

The 3R activities (Rescue, Rehab, and Release) to save animals are also carried out by the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP). This institution has a rehabilitation center special for Bornean Orangutan of the Morio subspecies, named BORA (Bornean Rescue Orangutan Alliance) located in the Labanan Forest, Berau, East Kalimantan. The orangutan was rescued from forest fires or illegal ownership to be released back into the wild. "These orangutans need a rehabilitation process before being released into the wild because they may have lived too long with humans," said Indira Nurul Qomariah, Biologist from COP. Usually after getting the same food as humans like bread or biscuits for a long period of time, they are no longer used to natural foods. They may also be mistreated by being chained up, or living in a cramped cage and lost their natural abilities such as climbing trees, building nests, or facing danger.

Meanwhile, Tri Atmoko, a Senior Researcher at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, told about efforts to save the Proboscis monkey, whose habitat area is now decreasing (about 2% per year). This happens, according to Tri, because the proboscis monkey's habitat on the banks of the river is easily converted to various other uses such as gardens, ponds, settlements, and others. The fragmentation that occurs also causes the proboscis monkey population to be isolated so that inter-population marriages decline and cause a decrease in genetic quality which eventually accelerates extinction. "Most of the proboscis monkeys' habitats are outside conservation areas, therefore habitats outside these conservation areas need also to be the focus of conservation efforts," he said.

The presentations available for download HERE

You can watch the full webinar in the following link: