Palm oil

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PARADISE LOST

Palm oil versus the wildlife on Sumatra

By Megan Gardner

It was a dream of mine to visit Mount Leuser National Park on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, after watching a documentary of this beautiful jungle years ago. The only place on earth where tigers, orang-utans, elephants and rhinos live in the same place – but heavily under threat of the palm oil industry. 

I finally made that journey in August 2019. 

I had heard before my departure of the many wildfires burning in Sumatra, fires that were once again destroying the jungle to make way for more palm oil plantations, even though is now illegal after the Indonesian government announced an end to any new palm oil developments.

Palm oil plantations everywhere

But nothing prepared me for the thick choking smoke that overwhelmed us as we stepped outside the international arrivals in Medan. I was gutted. It was true, the forests were on fire. Fortunately the smoke dissipated the further from the airport we drove towards the sprawling city of Medan. 

A few days later we headed out for the jungle of Bukit Lawang, the entry town to the National Park. It wasn’t long after we left the city limits of Medan behind that the landscaped changed from hustle and bustle of city life into rural pastures and colourful villages. That all was nice but soon that changed too into the domineering palm oil plantations that lined both sides of the highway – mile after mile. 

The palm oil plantations featured out our van window all the way to Bukit Lawang. It was a sad reminder of what was once there, lush tropical habitat for the wildlife that called it home. Fortunately the National Park is a wildlife haven and is teeming with all sorts of critters from the biggest centipedes you have ever seen to our orange fuzzy furred cousins the orang-utans. Also living in this pristine jungle is the Sumatran Tiger – extremely endangered – and the Sumatran elephant and rhino. 

While walking around the village of Bukit Lawang we noticed the palm oil plantations encroaching right up to the National Park. We learnt that the fruit sells for 10 cents a kilo and the tree produces fruit after 4 years and will live approximately 25 years, using a ridiculous amount of water and draining the soil of nutrients.

Yet looking around on Sumatra I did not see any wealth: it’s a third world country. Looking at all the palm oil that Indonesia produces (approx 54% of the worlds production – 2017) you have to ask: ‘who is making all the money?’ Certainly not the poor farmers. 

After leaving Bukit Lawang we headed to Lake Toba, which was a long full days drive. For the first three hours we drove through palm oil plantations – again – until they eventually thinned out. We drove through a forested area where we were supposed to have a chance to see a Sumatran Tiger. Needless to say we did not see one.

Nor did we see any other wildlife.

Heading back home: more palm oil plantations

On our last day we headed to the airport. The skinny winding roads made way for a tolled super highway that led straight to the airport. Once again, palm oil plantations lined either side of the road. A road that was most probably paved with the blood of the wildlife, the money made from taxes from the palm oil plantations that stole the wildlife’s home.

It has been weeks now since we left Sumatra and the fires are still burning.

We must all take a stand and boycott any products containing dirty palm oil. If there is no demand then there will be no more destruction. 

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Kerinci tiger habitat

Original source, credits text and photograph

USA/Indonesia – Mongabay

A Tiger Refuge In Sumatra Gets A Reprieve From Road Building.

Content

The rainforests that once carpeted Indonesia’s Sumatra Island are among the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, home to iconic species like the Sumatran tiger, rhino and orangutan. They are also among the most imperiled; in just two decades, between 1990 and 2010, Sumatra lost 40 percent of its old-growth forest. The tigers, rhinos and orangutans that roamed those forests are now critically endangered.

Much of the intact forest that remains is protected, at least nominally, in a series of National Parks, and, since 2004, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS).

Commentary

Indonesia has to do so much more to save its top tiger reserve Kerinci Seblat.

This article gives an excellent insight on how a beautiful nature area is being wasted by agriculture, logging, mining and poaching.

Please step up Indonesia!

#tiger #tigernews

Riau tiger HTC

Original source, credits text and photograph

Indonesia – Anatara News

Forest Fires Drive Sumatran Tiger From Their Habitats

Content

Indonesia, home to the Sumatran tiger, joined celebrations on International Tiger Day, observed on July 25, to raise support for the conservation of tigers.
The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving tiger in the country, and the smallest of the five tiger subspecies in the world. In the 1970s, the number of Sumatran tigers had reached some 1,000, though the figure decreased to 800 by the 1980s. Currently, the population is believed to be between 400 and 600 tigers.

In earlier days, Indonesia was home to three tiger species, including the Bali tiger, which became extinct in 1940, and the Java tiger, declared extinct in the 1980s.
While environmentalists, experts and officials campaigned during Global Tiger Day, still, the few remaining Sumatran tigers have to struggle to survive, as Sumatra Island has been ravaged by hundreds of hotspots, similar to forest fires, since July 2019.

Riau Province on Sumatra Island has been the most affected by forest fires. Wildfires also broke out in the province’s Tesso Nilo, a 81,700-hectare national park, which is a habitat for critically endangered tigers and elephants.

 

Commentary

Indonesian island Sumatra is like the Amazon: in fire because of ruthless industries that prearrange the fires.

Of course palm oil is the biggest threat to habitats of a.o. tigers but loggers do the work. They start the fires after they have picked the best trees. The results: dead animals and animals thrown out of their habitat, being forced to enter human territory.

Now Indonesia is setting up cultural programs to prevent locals using snares. Although this is a problem, it is not the biggest threat.

Indonesia MUST put more emphasis on preventing pre-arranged forest forest.

#tiger #tigernews

Tiger corridor

Original source, credits text and photograph

USA – Mongabay

How Going Organic Brought Hope To MP’s Cotton Farmers And The Wildlife Around Them.

Content

Twenty-six-year-old Laxmi Salami comes from a long line of farmers who have remained true to the tried and tested ways of cotton cultivation that they know. Not surprisingly, she was unwilling to stray from the well-trodden path, into organic farming, an unfamiliar territory for her.

But when the young cotton farmer, hailing from Gajandoh village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, reluctantly agreed to participate in an organic farming project and try something new on her field, the results were a welcome surprise. “Last year, I harvested 12 and a half quintals of traditional cotton in seven acres. I sold it all for Rs. 62,500, but my costs towards pesticides, fertilisers and labour came to almost Rs. 40,000, so my net profit was not much,” she says of her experience with cotton farming before the intervention. Now, on the remaining one acre of land where she experimented with organic cotton farming, her production costs have been negligible and her profit from the one acre cultivation, a 100 percent.

Commentary

Wonderful initiative of NGOs to help local cotton farmers into organic cotton, helping the forests and tiger corridors.

Legal logging

Original source, credits text and photograph

Malaysia – Free Malaysia Today

 

Legal Logging Biggest Threat To Tigers, Says Green Activist.

Content

An environmentalist has called for a stop to logging in the parts of the Belum-Temenggor forest complex where it is currently allowed, saying it is the biggest threat facing wildlife, particularly the endangered Malayan tiger.

“Belum-Temenggor is large and tigers need big areas in which to roam,” said Andrew Sebastian, the CEO of the Malaysian Eco-tourism and Conservation Society.

The forest complex comprises the Royal Belum State Park and the Temenggor, Amanjaya and Gerik forest reserves.

Commentary

Finally some attention to the real cause of the problems Malayan tigers face: destruction of habitat due to logging and palm oil.

Maybe the Malayan authorities start to realize they can’t protect the logging and palm oil companies any longer.

Chevron tiger

Original source, credits text and photograph

Indonesia – Antara News

Forest Fire Allegedly Drives Tiger Into Chevron Facility.

Content

A wild Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) was captured on camera roaming around the facility of oil firm PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia, Siak District, Wednesday, allegedly fleeing from the forest fire that gutted the region.

“Yes, it has been confirmed that it is a Sumatran tiger. It appeared this morning at 7 a.m. local time,” Head of the Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) Suharyono told ANTARA on the sidelines of the commemoration of National Natural Conservation Day 2019 here on Wednesday.

Commentary

A Sumatran tiger on the run of forest fires due to destroy precious rain forest to creat palm oil industry was seen on a oil facility of Chevron.

The Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) agency has sent a team to rescue the endangered animal.

No news yet about this.

Melaka zoo tiger

The fate of the Malayan tiger hangs in the balance as poaching continues even in the tiger priority site of Belum-Temengor forest reserve, along with the decline in the number of other wildlife that the tiger relies on for food.

In an interview with Bernama, WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Malaysia, Tiger Landscape Lead Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj said the tiger population in the country today has sadly declined to fewer than 200.

Poaching activities, driven by high demand for the tiger body parts for traditional Chinese medicine and other purposes, have drawn hunters from as far as Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia into the country.

Anti poaching tigers

Two battalions of the police general operations force (GOF) have been directed to assist the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in tackling poachers, especially those hunting the endangered Malayan tigers, says Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador.

The Inspector-General of Police said one of the battalions, comprising 500 members, would be deployed together with Perhilitan personnel to patrol the forest.

Another battalion, he added, would be put on standby.

Both battalions are from Perak Senoi Praaq, the police unit made up mostly of Orang Asli.

Malayan tiger conservation

The Perak State Park Corporation issued a call for global support to mark World Tiger Day 2019 to save the critically endangered Malayan tiger.

Once estimated at 3,000 animals in Peninsular Malaysia, recent studies have shown an alarming drop in tiger populations. Even as the Perak state works with conservation groups to create larger habitats for tigers, the greatest threat to the Malayan tiger is poaching.

WWF Malaysia had previously warned that the “influx of foreign poachers into Malaysia’s forests is alarming.” This followed an earlier warning that a “quiet invasion by poaching syndicates from Indochina” is due to the disappearance of the wild tiger in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The current population estimate of the Malayan tiger places their numbers at less than 200 animals in all of Peninsular Malaysia.

Striped lion

When the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) was rolled out in 2010, it announced the exigency and intent in rather dramatic terms.

The programme, endorsed in the St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, was billed as the “last best hope for tigers”. Inaction could lead to extinction of the “world’s most magnificent species”, the programme’s executive summary had warned. Nine years into the ambitious programme, designed over the period between 2010 and 2022, the intent appears to have translated to a rise in the number of big cats in India, one of the 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) in the GTRP.

The TRCs’ shared goal of doubling the number of tigers globally by 2022 could still be viewed as unrealistic but conservationists see in these numbers a possibility to optimise ongoing efforts — in restoring a depleted prey base, reviving habitats, building new resources for site-specific strategies and more crucially, in improving protection of forests with minimal conflict.

Y V Jhala, scientist at the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, sees in the task for 2022 a “good target for politicians” to work toward and feels that the post-2010 thrust has, despite setbacks in some of the TRCs, had impressive returns. The senior scientist is working on the 2018 tiger census, a project that monitors the status of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat in India. The report is scheduled to be released by the end of July.

Daily Star tiger

Research estimates there are fewer than 4,000 of the big cats left in the wild. A century ago there were around 80,000.

The crisis is blamed on poachers and trophy hunters. Economic development is also a major factor in their decline because it ruins their habitat.

Campaigner Martin Hughes-Games has been studying the tiger count in India, which accounts for 60% of those left.

He said: “India is a country that’s industrialising incredibly fast. There are roads and railway lines and industries everywhere you look.

Malayan tiger under threat

Recently a tiger walked down the main thoroughfare of Kampung Besul (video here), a village in the north coastal state of Terengganu, sending villagers fleeing in all directions. The cat, dubbed the “friendly tiger” because it did no one any harm, later died of canine distemper disorder, which probably explains why it “went tame” and strolled through the town.

Malaysia is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, and the rain forests of Peninsular Malaysia, along with those of southern Thailand, are the oldest on the planet. If anything, the death of the cat is emblematic of the peril to the country’s quickly-vanishing wildlife as urbanization, poachers and other problems eat into not just the tigers’ habitat but create a wide range of problems for other species as well.

The spread of canine distemper disorder into the wild cat population is very bad news on its own. A deadly virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system, it is often spread to wild cats and dholes – wild dogs — in Asia from the feces left behind from hunting dogs and domesticated dogs which wander into wildlife habitat. According to another report, two tigers were seen prowling around the village, with a pregnant woman claiming a big cat chased her for 300 meters while she was riding her motorbike. Apparently one of the two was caught, later dying of distemper. The other escaped. It is still being sought.

Perak tiger

The Perak state government has pledged its full cooperation in the race to save the diminishing Malayan Tiger population.

In expressing support for the Land, Water and Natural Resources Ministry’s initiative, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he welcomed the plan to transform Gerik, the district where Royal Belum rainforest is located, into a “Tiger Town”.

“Poaching of wildlife, including the Malayan Tiger, has been a longstanding issue there as it (Royal Belum) covers such a vast area (290,000ha).

captured Malayan tiger

Tiger clickbait

Bukit Barisan tiger

Xavier Jayakumar

Malayan tiger

Malayan tiger

Tiger paw print Riau