December 10, 2019

150 orangutans in palm oil concession saved from fires

JAKARTA ( - The impact of this year’s forest and land fires on at least 150 Bornean orangutans in two conservation blocks set aside by (PT KAL), a palm oil concession owned by Jakarta listed company PT ANJT Tbk, a member of RSPO, is indeed worrisome.

We at are naturally very concerned about the fate of these orangutans, as we have witnessed for ourselves how they live in the two ANJT conservation blocks located in West Kalimantan’s Ketapang regency, as previously reported (May 9 and May 23).  

Our concerns were finally addressed when PT KAL’s conservation department responded to our questions about the fate of the orangutans in the palm oil concession in the wake of the fires that afflicted parts of it in September this year. 

“Our observation results show, and from what I’ve seen in the field, that the conditions of the Bornean orangutans and their habitat are safe,” said Nardiyono, Conservation Manager of PT KAL, in writing to (Dec 5). 

The following LandViewer images demonstrate the level of land and forest fires which affected small pieces of the larger PT ANJT conservation block (delineated in blue). The Bornean orangutans’ habitat, according to the company’s conservation manager, remains safe. 

Despite the extent of the land and forest fires, as depicted in the images above, PT KAL’s conservation manager has made an assurance that none of the Bornean orangutans in the two conservation blocks have been injured.

The LandViewer images below show the other conservation block (delineated in blue) in the PT KAL palm oil concession, minor parts of which were afflicted by fires which also didn't harm the Bornean orangutans there.

“Not one of the Bornean orangutans in our concession has been wounded or injured (due to the forest and land fires),” he asserted.

Law enforcement

Nevertheless, to prevent the escalation of fires in the PT KAL concession, as well as for investigation the purposes, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya ordered her team to seal the concession (Sep 14).

The ministry’s law enforcement actions are not only focused on the burned areas in the PT KAL palm oil concession, but also on verifying the company's level of legal compliance.

The ministry has also sealed off the concessions of many RSPO members as well as APP and APRIL pulpwood concessions. Furthermore, a WWF restoration ecosystem concession was also sealed due to the fires. 

In closing, while we don’t know the impact of the haze-causing fires on the health level of the Bornean orangutans concerned, at least we have been informed that none of around 150 of these orangutans has been injured or killed because of the fires.