February 11, 2018

Murdering Orangutans in Indonesia

Murdering Orangutans in Indonesia

Critically endangered orangutans are at risk of being killed by locals. Photo Credit: Flickr

A male orangutan was found dead by villagers in East Kutai district in Indonesian Borneo. His body had been riddled with  air gun pellets, some 130 shots in all. The ape had also been attacked with a machete. “We found pellets all over its body. There were also a number of cut wounds that could have been caused by a machete,” said a local police chief.

The horrific murder of this wild orangutan comes shortly after another member of the critically endangered species was killed by two Indonesian men in a similarly brutal attack. The two plantation workers shot the ape 17 times before proceeding to dismember him and tossing his headless corpse into a river, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia. After they were arrested by police, the men claimed they had acted in self-defense.

Orangutans belong in the wild, but there is less and less of that wild left for them. Photo Credit: Boston University

“We are shocked by this senseless cruelty that has resulted in the suffering and death of an orangutan, a critically endangered species that is protected by national law from such harm,” Teresa Telecky, a spokesperson for Humane Society International, has been quoted as saying.

We should all be shocked. We should also be concerned and not only by the brutality of these attacks on orangutans but by the very fact that such attacks continue happening. Superstitions and a wanton lack of concern for the welfare of animals continue to persist among many local communities.

And orangutans are hardly the only animals at risk of being killed by some villagers with wanton savagery. Many locals in Indonesia and Malaysia still treat a myriad of wildlife species as nothing more than pests or as sources of extra income. Villagers routinely shoot or poison wild elephants for wandering into plantations. Locals continue to hunt down animals like tigers, sambar deer and hornbills to sell their meat and body parts on the black market.

Meanwhile, orangutans and other species continue losing their habitats, or what’s left of them, to palm oil plantations and other forms of encroachment. Illegal logging, land clearing, timber and palm oil cultivation, and other forest conversion activities are stripping ever more land around Borneo of its natural forest cover, leaving resident animals without a place to call home.

Without deep forests into which they can disappear and hide, endangered species are increasingly at risk of coming into contact with people, some of them may then murder them.


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