Burning Alive: Kalimantan

There was a comment recently on this site by Inez who has asked me to make aware the plight of the orangutans in Kalimantan. If anyone can assist in any way with this worthwhile operation then you will be doing your part in preserving this endangered species. Here’s the article:

The last call for the preservation of tropical rainforest in Tumbang Koling, Central Kalimantan
Center for Orangutan Protection, Sampit, 22 June 2007



This report has been developed following a survey conducted within the Tumbang Koling area, where primary rainforest is being rapidly cleared to make way for palm oil plantations belonging to Nabatindo Karia Utama.

To date, the company has cleared approximately 80,000 hectares. Alarmingly, their current target is to clear 110,000 hectares. The primary rainforest in the Tumbang Koling area has been preserved since 1972 by a local community group – Pantis Pandelum – formed by Stone Cristoffel. This preservation role is endorsed by the local authorities, attached as Appendix 1 is a letter from the local head district, allowing Stone Cristoffel and Pantis Pandelum to care for the forest and the rich flora and fauna within it, including a list of the flora species which are important for the local community (traditional medicine plays a large role in the lives of the people).

The communities represented in Pantis Pandelum are dependant on the richness and diversity of plant and animal life this forest supports and have protected and preserved the area successfully until October 2006. In October, the company Nabatindo Karia Utama started their campaign to clear the area of forest.

Organisational Profile

The Nabatindo Karia Utama company is a subsidiary of Rimba Lestari. Rimba Lestari is a major palm oil producer in Tumbang Koling, Cempaga Hulu, Kotawaringin Timur, Kabupaten Sampit.

The Company President is Mr Ramil, the Manager is Ketut Sudiatmaja (HP + 62 11 52 79 50). The Head office is in Pekanbaru, Sumartra.

The Burning of the Forest

During the dry season, and without any warning, Nabatindo Karia Utama started to burn the forest area. What the flames did not destroy, the Bulldozers did. Protest letters to the head of the district and other involved parties by Pantis Pandelum remained unanswered and Nabatindo Karia Utama has continued its destructive work. Since October 2006, an estimated 6,000 hectares have been cleared. In May 2007, Pantis Pandelum asked for help and that’s how the Center for Orangutan Protection (COP) became involved in this case.

Following a survey of the remaining forest, COP has witnessed significant destruction and overcrowding of the remaining areas.

The amount of species now forced into small remaining areas of forest is cause stress, territorial disputes and significant competition for food. COP found high numbers of fresh orangutan nests (less than 1 day old) in the areas surveyed, suggesting a dense population of orangutans within the area. This is directly due the negative impact of the palm oil plantations on orangutan habitat. Competition for food and habitat will become a big worry for the future of the orangutans within the surveyed area. The one adult female orangutan we encountered was in poor state and very small for her size.

The clearing of more land for palm oil plantations is a key concern. More land clearing will mean the further loss of habitat, and a decrease in the population of orangutans within the area. But it is not only the orangutan who are suffering, the area is home to many unique flora and fauna species, this forest is in urgent need of protection.

While alarming, the destruction of the forest is only part of it. During the course of the survey, Nabatindo Karia Utama staff offered to sell displaced orangutan to COP. The situation requires urgent attention and cannot be allowed to continue.

“Ganti Rugi”

In Central Kalimantan, palm oil companies have a reputation for illegal land clearing through burning. Once ashes have replaced the forest, the land becomes of low value and the local people are willing to sell the land for rock bottom prices (approx. 450,000 Rupiah/hectare). This is what has happened with the land of Pantis Pandelum. After 5,000 hectares was destroyed, the company has offered to “ganti rugi”, meaning they will pay a low price for the land to the victims of the land loss. Sadly, the compensation doesn’t include all the loss of the many unique and priceless flora and fauna species that have been destroyed as well. Palm trees are planted straight after land clearing, with remaining logs still burning in the area.

Where to from here?

COP will continue to support the efforts of Pantis Pandelum and take all measures needed to end the destruction caused by Nabatindo Karia Utama and other palm oil producers in this area. With their forest cut down, these wonderful animals have nowhere to go and their future is in the balance.

We are seeking your support.

Most urgently, we need you financial support to fund our campaign to work with the local community to save the forest. Required equipment to support the fight is listed below – any support is greatly appreciated.

We also need international exposure and recognition of the impact of the current destruction. Please circulate this to any group that has the ability to get this issue in the media, or bought to the attention of governments.

Logistical needs for COP operation in Tumbang Koling
Nr Item Purpose Amount Price/item Total amount

1. Handycam Sony Documenting activity within the field 2 $ 500 $ 1000
2. Trail motor cross
Yamaha/Honda Transportation in the field 1 $ 6000 $ 6000
3. GPS Navigation in the field 2 $ 240 $ 480
4. Compass Navigation in the field 3 $ 10 $ 30
5. Car rental (Mitsubitsi Strada) Bringing equipment and personnel to and from the field 10 $ 80 $ 800
6. Logistics Food&water for team – $ 500 $ 500
7. Tools To work in the field 1 Box $ 100 $ 100
8. Seeds (rubber trees) Replant the devastated land 10.000 trees $1 $1000
$ 9910
* New. We can try to find a second – hand item

If you would like to help then please contact Inez by email: inezintveld@gmail.com

Or, go to the website of COP: www.orangutanprotection.com

PO BOX 2406 JKP 10024 – Jakarta

PHONE : +62 (0) 81398229911,
EMAIL: orang-utan@indosat.net.id