Sun, 11 May 2003

Save us please...

They are supposed to be protected animals but in Kalimantan a baby orangutan is illegally sold for only Rp 50,000 (US$6). When the young primate reaches the black market in Jakarta, the price soars to Rp 4 million and rockets to US$25,000 in the United States.

Such practices have been instrumental in the decline of the orangutan population in Sumatra and Kalimantan by 80 percent in the last two decades. Even as its numbers dwindle to dangerous levels, the animal is still threatened by illegal hunting and Indonesia's continuing widespread deforestation and corruption.

To preserve the protected animal, the Balikpapan Orangutan Survival Foundation has been trying to seize baby orangutans from those who have purchased them. The babies are then returned to their habitats through a reintroduction program in Samboja, East Kalimantan.

Text and photos by Tarko Sudiarno