Sat, 09 Oct 1999

Official takes blame for death of dolphins

SURAKARTA, Central Java (JP): Ministry of Forestry's Directorate General for Protection and Conservation of Nature admitted responsibility for allowing PT Solo Citra Perkasa to capture and breed dolphins which were found dead recently.

Director General A. Manan Siregar said on Thursday that his staff were ignorant in issuing a permit to the private company.

"We were not well informed if the company was technically capable of capturing and breeding dolphins," he told The Jakarta Post after speaking at a seminar at the Gadjah Mada University campus.

He pledged his office would be more careful in issuing permits for breeding endangered species. "I will physically check the breeding site before a permit is issued in the future. I am serious," he said.

He said there was no technical guidance available on dolphin breeding when his office issued the permit to PT Solo Citra Perkasa, therefore, his office should not be held accountable for that.

PT Solo Citra Perkasa earned a permit in 1997 to capture and keep the mammals at Taru Jurug Zoo, which it manages.

The company has claimed that it captured nine bottle-nosed dolphins off the north coast of Java and that six of them died due to digestive problems.

The Association of Indonesian Zoos found indications that the mammals died because of poor treatment.

"The facilities available were completely inappropriate," the report of an investigation team set up by the association said.

It remains unclear how many dolphins died at the zoo so far.

Director of the Kartika Chandra Legal Institute quoted two former dolphin keepers as saying recently that 15 of 18 dolphins in the zoo died.

Local police, who investigated the death of the dolphins following the legal institute's report, have named the PT Solo Citra Perkasa director as the main suspect. (44/sur)