Orangutans Fighting For Survival

Palm Oil Plantations Destroying Indonesia’s Biodiversity

Even in the first light of dawn in the Tripa swamp forest of Sumatra it is clear that something is terribly wrong. Where there should be lush foliage stretching away towards the horizon, there are only the skeletons of trees. Smoke drifts across a scene of devastation.

Orangutan conservation Borneo

Tripa is part of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the world’s most ecologically important rainforests and once home to its densest population of Sumatran orangutans.

As recently as 1990, there were 60,000 hectares of swamp forest in Tripa: now just 10,000 remain, the rest grubbed up to make way for palm oil plantations servicing the needs of some of the world’s biggest brands. Over the same period, the population of 2,000 orangutans has dwindled to just 200.

In the face of international protests, Indonesia banned any fresh felling of forests two years ago, but battles continue in the courts over existing plantation concessions. Here, on the edge of one of the remaining stands of forest, it is clear that the destruction is continuing. Deep trenches have been driven through the peat, draining away the water, killing the trees, which have been burnt and bulldozed. The smell of wood smoke is everywhere. But of the orangutans who once lived here, there is not a trace.

orangutan and tiger habitat Sumatra

This is the tough physical landscape in which environmental campaigners fighting to save the last of the orangutans are taking on the plantation companies, trying to keep track of what is happening on the ground so that they can intervene to rescue apes stranded by the destruction.

But physically entering the plantations is dangerous and often impractical; where the water has not been drained away, the ground is a swamp, inhabited by crocodiles. Where canals have been cut to drain away the water, the dried peat is thick and crumbly and it is easy to sink up to the knees. Walking even short distances away from the roads is physically draining and the network of wide canals has to be bridged with logs. The plantations do not welcome visitors and the Observer had to evade security guards to gain entrance.

Indonesia orangutan conservation

To overcome these problems, campaigners have turned to a technology that has become controversial for its military usage but that in this case could help to save the orangutans and their forest: drones.

Graham Usher, from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, produces a large flight case and starts to unpack his prized possession, a polystyrene Raptor aircraft with a two-metre wingspan and cameras facing forward and down.

The £2,000 drone can fly for more than half an hour over a range of 30-40km, controlled by a computer, recording the extent of the destruction of the forest.

“The main use of it is to get real time data on forest loss and confirm what’s going on with fires,” he says.

Sumatra tiger conservation

They can also use the drone to track animals that have been fitted with radio collars. Graham opens his computer and clicks on a video. Immediately, the screen fills with an aerial view of forest, then a cleared patch of land and then new plantation as the drone passes overhead. “We are getting very powerful images of what is going on in the field,” he says.

The footage is helping them to establish where new burning is taking place and which plantations are potentially breaking the law. Areas of forest where the peat is deeper than three metres should be protected – the peat is a carbon trap – but in practice many plantations do not measure the depth.

“They shouldn’t be developing it but the power of commerce and capital subverts all legislation in this country. There is no law enforcement or rule of law,” says Usher.

The battle to save the orangutans is not helped by the readiness of multinational corporations to use palm oil from unverified sources. Hundreds of products on UK supermarket shelves are made with palm oil or its derivatives sourced from plantations on land that was once home to Sumatran orangutans.

Indonesia forest conservation

Environmental campaigners say that the complex nature of the palm oil supply chain makes it uniquely difficult for companies to ensure that the oil they use has been produced ethically and sustainably.

“One of the big issues is that we simply don’t know where the palm oil used in products on UK supermarket shelves comes from. It may well be that it came from Tripa,” says Usher.

In October, the Rainforest Foundation UK singled out Superdrug and Procter and Gamble (particularly its Head and Shoulders, Pantene and Herbal Essences hair products) for criticism over the use of unsustainable palm oil. A traffic light system produced using the companies’ responses to questions from the Ethical Consumer group also placed Imperial Leather, Original Source and Estée Lauder hair products in the red-light category.

A separate report by Greenpeace, also issued in October into Sumatran palm oil production, accused Procter and Gamble and Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) of using “dirty” palm oil. The group called on the brands to recognize the environmental cost of “irresponsible palm oil production”. According to the Rainforest Foundation’s executive director, Simon Counsell, part of the problem is that even companies that do sign up to ethical schemes, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, cannot be certain that all the oil they receive is ethically produced because of the way oil from different plantations is mixed at processing plants.

Sumatra tiger conservation

“The smaller companies sell to bigger companies and it all gets mixed. Even those companies making some effort cannot be certain that what they are getting is what they have paid for,” he said.

Driving out of Tripa, the whole area appears to have been given over to palm oil plantations; some long-established, 20-25 foot tall trees in regimented rows, others recently planted. Every now and again there is a digger, driving a new road into what little forest remains, the first stage of the process that will end with the forest burned and gone and replaced with young oil palms.

There is a steady flow of lorries loaded with palm fruits, heading for the processing plant not far from the town of Meulaboh. From there, tankers take the oil to the city of Medan for shipping onwards.

It is outside Medan that the orangutan victims of clearances are taken to recover, at the SOCP’s quarantine centre. These are the animals rescued from isolated stands of forest or from captivity. Those that can be will eventually be released back into another part of the island.

Anto, a local orangutan expert, says the spread of the plantations is fragmenting the remaining forest and isolating the orangutans.

“Then people are poaching the orangutans because it is easy to catch them,” he says. “People isolate them in a tree and then they cut the tree or they make the orangutan so afraid that it climbs down and is caught. After that they can kill it and sometimes eat it. Or they can trade it.”

This is what happened to Gokong Puntung and his mother. The one-year-old ape – now recovering with the help of SOCP – was rescued from Sidojadi village in February. He had been captured a month earlier in the Tripa forest.

A group of fishermen spotted Gokong Puntung and his mother trapped in a single tree and unable to reach the rest of the forest without coming down. The men apparently decided to try to grab the baby in the hope of selling it. One climbed the tree, forcing the mother to fall to the ground, where another man set about her and beat her with a length of timber. In the confusion, mother and baby became separated and the fishermen were able to get away. They sold the animal for less than £6 to a plantation worker.

“We got information from people who heard an orangutan crying in one house,” says SOCP vet Yenny Saraswati. “They went in the house and found the baby orangutan in a chicken cage. The owner said he had bought it from people who had taken it from the plantation.”

It was a very unusual case: more often, the mother is killed.

“They are very good mothers – better than humans,” she says. “A lot of human mothers don’t care for their babies, but I have never seen an orangutan leave its baby. They always hug them and don’t let them cry.”

That’s why poachers tend to kill the mothers, says Anto. “They hit it with sticks. One person uses a forked stick to hold its head and the others hit it and beat it to death. But the young orangutans they sell.”

The effect on Tripa’s orangutans has been disastrous. Cut off from the population on the rest of the island, they teeter on the brink of viability; experts say they really need a population of about 250 to survive long term and, because orangutans produce offspring only once every six or seven years, it takes a long time to replenish a depleted population.

Those that remain in the forest face other dangers. Some die when the forest is burned, others starve to death as their food supply is destroyed.

If the orangutans did not already have it tough, there may yet be worse to come: gold has been found in Aceh’s remaining forests and mining is starting.

“If there is no government effort to protect the remaining area, we will never know the orangutans here again,” says Anto.

“If this continues they will be gone within 10 years.”

In response to the criticism over its use of unsustainable palm oil, Superdrug said it “is aware of the complex issues surrounding palm oil and its derivatives, which are currently used in some of its own-brand products, and is committed to working with its suppliers to use sustainable alternatives when they become widely available.”

Estée Lauder Companies, which makes Aveda hair products, said: “We share the concern about the potential environmental effects of palm oil plantations, including deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity and habitats.”

The statement said that its palm oil (made from the pulped fruit) came from sustainable sources. But the company said the majority of its brands used palm kernel oil (from the crushed palm fruit kernels) and that it was working to develop sustainable supplies.

“We are committed to acting responsibly and will continue to work with our suppliers to find the best ways to encourage and support the development of sustainable palm kernel oil sources.”

PZ Cussons, which makes Original Source and Imperial Leather products, along with the Sanctuary SPA range, said it was committed to using raw materials from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources wherever possible.

The company said it had “embarked on a sustainability journey” and was working with other producers to gain a better understanding of the supply chain and “to promote the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products”. Mondelez International (formerly Kraft) said it wanted to eliminate unethical plantations from its supply chain by 2020.

“We fully share concerns about the environmental impacts of palm oil production, including deforestation. As a final buyer, engaging our supply chain is the most meaningful action we can take to ensure palm oil is grown sustainably,” said a spokesman.

“Palm oil should be produced on legally held land, protecting tropical forests and peat land, respecting human rights, including land rights, and without forced or child labour.

“We expect palm oil suppliers to provide us transparency on the proportion of their supplies traceable to plantations meeting these principles by the end of 2013 and to eliminate supplies that do not meet these criteria by 2020.”

Procter & Gamble, which makes Head and Shoulders, Herbal Essences and Pantene products, said it was “strongly opposed to irresponsible deforestation practices and our position on the sustainable sourcing of palm oil is consistent with our corporate sustainability principles and guidelines.

“We are committed to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil and have set a public target that, by 2015, we will only purchase palm oil from sources where sustainable and responsible production has been confirmed.”

Orangutans are facing extinction as their habitats are becoming fragmented and agricultural production expands.

Populations of orangutans have been broken up into groups and this is causing a problem for the survival of the species.

The WWF estimates that a century ago there were more than 230,000 orangutans living in the wild, now they think there are only 41,000 in Borneo and 7,500 in Sumatra. Others put the figures at 54,000 in Borneo and 6,600 in Sumatra.

Some conservationists predict that orangutans could disappear in as little as 20 to 30 years, others think it could happen in a few hundred years.

Orangutans share 96.4% of their genes with humans.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/orangutans-fight-for-survival

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

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Tourists From Middle East Stay Longer In Indonesia

Muslim Tourists Discover Indonesia

The amount of Muslim tourists, especially from the Middle East, may lag behind those from China or other major Asian countries but their numbers are growing year to year, and more importantly they stay for longer and spend big.

According to data from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, 89,996 tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt entered the country during the January-August period, an increase of 28.3 percent from 64,479 in the same period last year.

Indonesia travel information

“The figure is relatively small compared to larger markets such as China, but their expenditure is bigger than regular tourists because many Muslims travel with their family,” the ministry’s meeting, incentives, convention, exhibition (MICE) and special interest tourism promotional director, Rizki Handayani, told The Jakarta Post.

The ministry data shows that tourists from non-Muslim backgrounds spend US$1,113 during their vacations in Indonesia while a Muslim traveler spends double to triple that figure.

“They usually spend more than a week in Indonesia and we believe that sharia tourism packages have the potential to attract more Muslim travelers in the future,” she said, adding that Middle East tourists favored Jakarta, West Java and Bali.

Besides the Middle East, other important Muslim markets are Malaysia and Singapore: The number of visitors from both neighboring nations also saw double-digit growth.

The ministry data reveals that there were 1.59 million tourists from Malaysia and Singapore in the first eight months of the year, a 11.5 percent increase from 1.41 million during the same period in 2012.

Indonesia Travel Guide

“Malaysia and Singapore remain among our 16 traditional markets because of their proximity and because we share almost the same culture. Sharia tourism products will help us to better tap into the rapidly expanding number of Muslim travelers from these two countries,” she added.

Apart from the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore, she said the government would focus its sharia promotion next year on Turkey, India, the UK and Morocco.

Contacted separately, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Asnawi Bahar said that its members were ready to cater to the Muslim holidaymakers market. He said that some of its members had been able to integrate Islamic values within the leisure activities they offered.

Indonesian art and culture

“ASITA members will always be ready to support any government program including this new form of tourism. But, the government needs to help us by overcoming challenges in developing this sector,” he told the Post.

He said the development of sharia tourism was challenged by the current state of the country’s infrastructure and the government’s commitment to development in the sector.

National Monument Jakarta

He explained that, in light of the administration’s end in 2014, the government needed a clear long-term, at least five years, grand-strategy to develop sharia tourism.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/11/11/middle-east-tourists-stay-longer-spend-more.html

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia Overlooking Tourism From India

Indonesia Missing Hindu Tourists From India

India is a potential market for Indonesian tourism, especially in Bali, yet the country has never been a main target for promotions, an observer said.

Bali’s senior tourism observer Bagus Sudibya said on Wednesday that on one hand only a few travel agencies had started putting India on their list. Meanwhile, on the other hand, the government’s promotion to India was very low, and it did not put sufficient effort into establishing direct flights connecting the two nations.

Balinese hindu religion

“Airlines have direct flights to and from countries further away, such as China. The same should be done with India, to boost the people’s interest to visit Indonesia,” he said.

Bagus, who recently joined the India Travel Mart event, said that the largest democratic country had one billion people and was enjoying sustainable economic growth in almost every sector.

Bagus also cited the increase of India’s per capita income — which had resulted in a significant addition to its middle class — as a reason for making India a target. At least 20 percent of Indians took foreign trips every year, he said.

Indonesian art and culture

Bali, besides being a main tourist attraction, is relatively close in distance to India as compared to European countries, increasing the potential for the island to become a holiday destination for Indians.

Furthermore, Bali has a bond with India: both are rich in Hindu culture. The province is home to Hindu heritage and places of worship, making India more relevant for promotions.

Bagus went on saying that many Indian tourists also held wedding ceremonies or honeymoons in Bali.

“Most of them come with big budgets, especially when traveling with their families,” he said.

Tanah Lot Bali

“I’ve handled several Indian weddings in Bali and they come with their extended family. The parties were grandiose. Some others chose to come for a honeymoon,” he added.

Bagus said that Indian tourists had a daily spend of around US$150 per day, excluding visits to tourism destinations and entertainment, such as rafting and water sports.

Bali Tourism Agency head Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu has said that India would be a target for the province’s tourism promotions. However, he said the lack of direct flights connecting India and Indonesia, Bali in particular, was a barrier.

“India is indeed an emerging market for Bali, we should work harder for tourism promotions there, involving all stakeholders,” he said.

Monkey Forest Ubud

Indian tourists to Bali from January to July this year reached 37,253, up 37.12 percent on the same period last year. The figure contributed 2.08 percent to the overall number of visitors, which had reached more than 1.79 million tourists.

As for 2012, as many as 46,632 Indian tourists went to Bali, or around 1.61 percent of the total incoming foreign tourists of in excess of 2.89 million people.

India, according to Bagus Sudibya, could be an example for developing special interest tourism, especially with its renowned spiritual attractions.

India is also focusing on expanding its adventure tourism to its mountainous northeastern regions that border Tibet and China — without significantly altering the environmental condition in the area.

He added that tourists visiting the developing destination were relatively affluent, as they were able to pay a minimum $200 to spend a night there. Moreover, visitors had to use helicopters to move around the attraction.

“India is quite aggressive in inviting travel agents and other tourism enterprises to visit and directly witness its attractiveness — especially countries that become its main hubs to other regions, such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia,” he stated.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/bali-daily/2013-11-07/india-neglected-potential-tourism-market-observer.html

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia Tourism Surging

Tourism Growing Across Indonesia

Indonesian tourism arrivals for the first nine months of 2013 are bolstering optimism that a target of 8.6 million foreign visitors for the entire year will be met.
Indonesian foreign tourist arrivals in September totaled 770,878 – pushing arrivals past the 6 million mark on a cumulative basis for January-September 2013.

DetikTravel.com quotes the Ministry of Tourism and the Creative Economy on Saturday, November 2, 2013, as saying that September arrivals of 770,878 were 12.8% higher than the 683,584 foreign visitors who came to Indonesia in September 2012.

surf Sumatra

Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, said: “Looking at the trend of foreign visitors over the past few months, I am optimistic that we will meet our moderate target of tourist arrivals for the entire year of 8.6 million.”

Total foreign visitors to Indonesia for the period January-September 2013 totaled 6.414,149 tourists. Pangestu credited the meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) sector for supporting the increase in tourist arrivals to Indonesia, citing the APEC 2013 conference and related meetings in Bali as making a major contributions to the strong performance in arrivals.

Indonesia Travel Guide

“The peak holiday season at the end of the year will also boost arrivals. For the coming three month we will focus on increasing promotions in a number of countries, and participate in the World Travel Mart in London and road shows in China to maintain the momentum of tourism growth through next year,” explained Pangestu.

Mt. Rinjani volcano Lombok Indonesia

Nationwide the countries showing the largest rate of month-on-month growth in September were Mainland China (+45,56%), Taiwan (+40%) and Hong Kong (+31.56%).

Source: http://www.balidiscovery.com/messages/message.asp?ID=9975

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Indonesia and Switzerland Promote Tourism

Indonesia Seeks Tourism From Europe

The Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Swiss Minister for the Economy, Schneider-Amman, to further develop four of Indonesia’s main tourism destinations, in particular in the field of tourism capacity building. The four destinations include:

Flores Indonesia

  • the island of Flores, hopping off point to the Komodo National Park, but itself a destination rich in culture and natural scenery to visit in the East Nusatenggara Province;

Birutie Galdikas Camp Leakey

  • Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan, conservation rainforests for the endangered Borneo orangutans, popular river tours and ecotours;

scuba dive Sulawesi

  • Wakatobi archipelago in South East Sulawesi, already a favorite destination for diving and conservation area for marine life; and

Tanah toraja

  • the Toraja highlands in the northern mountains of South Sulawesi, long known for its unique culture, traditions, white-water surfing, trekking and ecotours.

“This MOU covers the second phase of Destination development in Indonesia supported by the Secretariat for Economic Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, explained Minister Mari Pangestu, and is a continuation of the first phase that covered development on the island of Flores from 2010 to 2015.

During the first phase, development of Flores and the Komodo island as a major tourist destination saw a significant increase in visitors compared to 2009, namely a rise of 18% to 50,000 in international visitors and 85% in domestic tourists reaching 35,000 visitors in 2012. Foreign currency income for Flores in 2012 reached US$ 31.5 million, a surge of 48% compared to 2009.

Indonesia travel information

During Phase I, the Swiss government provided a grant of 5 million Swiss Francs, while for the second phase the grant for the 4 destinations amount to 8.97 million Swiss Francs.

On his side, Swiss Economic Minister, Schneider-Amman said that cooperation between Indonesia and Switzerland goes back a long way to 1980, when the Swiss Government provided technical assistance to the Bandung Tourism Academy at the time.

In the second phase, implementation will be undertaken together with local governments, the respective Destination Management Organizations (DMOs), local human resources, and educational tourism institutes.

The program is implemented by Swisscontact, who has been involved in the original tourism development of Labuan Bajo and West Manggarai as a tourist destination that in its initial stage was supported by AUSAID.

Source: http://www.eturbonews.com/39247/indonesia-switzerland-develop-tourism-capacity-building-4-main-d

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com. Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia