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Sumatra Wildlife and Environment Weekly News

Do Orangutans Plan? When It Comes To Travel They Do

A new research conducted by University of Zurich, shows that the night before Sumatran male orangutans travel through the forest, they often produce long, loud calls in the direction they plan to go. It provides a cue to other members of the community to plan for the trip ahead, and is the first field-observed case of primates planning for future events this far in advance. Previously, animals’ ability to plan has always been poorly understood.

To confirm the findings, researchers from the University followed 15 different adult Sumatran orangutan males in the wild for up to 10 days each, specifically taking note of how male calls throughout a day correlated with their travels later that day and the following day. They found that, in the evenings, dominant males let out long calls that often predicted the direction in which that male would travel the next day. While the calls made earlier in the day were less likely to correlate with the direction traveled. This suggests that these long calls function as travel cues to other members of a group

The findings also indicated that the females were more likely to follow the call than subordinate males. This is how the females remain in close proximity to their preferred mates, and to avoid forceful mating. The research got criticism as well, as it does not explain how or why the orangutans choose the direction of their paths. Details at: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/do-orangutans-plan-when-it-comes-to-travel-they-do

Indonesian Farmers File Suit Against President Over Haze Crisis

Environmental groups, on behalf of farmers belonging to five villages in Sumatra’s Riau province in Indonesia, have taken legal action against President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the issue of choking smog they experienced earlier this year. They said that the president has not done enough to stop slash-and-burn activities that contributed to the problem, and accused Forestry and environment ministers, as well as the Riau’s governor. Four years ago, President Yudhoyono vowed to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by at least 26 per cent by 2020. To reach this target, the government suspended issuing permits for clearing land but despite that, land firing for clearance continues to be carried out.

This year’s haze was the Southeast Asia’s worst haze crisis in over a decade with parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore covered in thick smoke. Slash-and-burn land clearance, even though it is illegal, is frequently used in Indonesia’s islands as the cheapest and fastest method. The country, which is home to around 10 per cent of the world’s tropical forest, has lost much of its biodiversity over the years to make way for paper and palm oil plantations. Read full story at: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-09-12/indonesian-farmers-file-suit-against-president-over-haze-crisis/1189467

Zoo’s Discoveries Offer Hope For Rare Rhinos

According the Terri Roth, director of the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the zoo is preparing to breed the last two Sumatran Rhinos left in North America in order to save one of the world’s most critically endangered species. The Rhino brother and sister at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are quite dissimilar. Harapan, the 6-year-old male Sumatran rhino, is loves to play outdoors, while his 9-year-old sister, Suci likes to stay inside. According to Roth, breeding them would be much more complex than simply placing a mating pair together and letting nature take its course. There are chances of genetic issues occurring as a result of sibling-mating, but specialists are taking steps to minimize the risks.

These rhinos are the last of the two-horned Asian rhino species, with their estimated population dipped below 100, due to their habitat loss and poachers. Read more at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/11/zoos-discoveries-offer-hope-for-rare-rhinos-/2802321/

Export Tax, High Royalties Threaten Small Miners

Thamrin Sihite, the director general of coal and minerals at the Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, said that the newly imposed fiscal measure and high royalties can result in closures of small scale miners. However, since coal reserves are not infinite, these measures were needed in order to prevent overexploitation and increased level of environmental damage. Besides preventing over-exploitation of coal resources, the export tax will also complement the domestic market obligation (DMO) ruling, which was imposed to ensure sufficient supply for the local market.

The newly planned system is likely to discourage the coal producers in the whole country, including Sumatra, due to declining coal prices. See details at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/09/12/export-tax-high-royalties-threaten-small-miners.html

Harrison Ford’s Environment Documentary Questions ‘Shocked’ Indonesian Forestry Minister

Indonesia’s forestry minister has accused Hollywood legend Harrison Ford of subjecting him to a rude interview on climate change and has regarded the incident as “shocking”. The presidential advisor, Andi Arief, told that during the making an environmental documentary in Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, Ford attacked the minister with rude questions, thus harassing state institutions, for which he could be deported as well.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, who was reportedly annoyed by Ford’s approach during the interview, said that he was not given the chance to explain the challenges of catching people who break the law in Indonesia’s sprawling rainforests.

According to Arief, the minister thought there would be some time to discuss the interview before it began; it was shocking that as soon as his (Ford’s) crew came in, they started filming and attacking him with questions. See details at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/harrison-ford-environment-indonesia_n_3899141.html?ir=Green

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