December 5, 2019

Govt to crack down on misleading wildlife fund-raising campaigns

JAKARTA ( - In early 2020, the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry will start taking firm action against individuals, groups and organizations that conduct fund-raising campaigns which exploit key Indonesian wildlife species and deceive the public. 

This move is urgently needed given that the ministry's investigation results show that more and more parties are carrying out such campaigns even though it is unclear what they are actually doing and how their actions are affecting the protection of critically-endangered species.

This plan was revealed by Wiratno, the Ministry's Director General of Nature Conservation and Ecosystems, in a statement to (Dec 4) from The UN Climate Change Conference - COP 25 in Madrid which he is currently attending.

He underlined the message from Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya that "there is a principle that must not be forgotten that wildlife belongs to the state and must be protected and safeguarded by state administrators."

The bottom-line according to Minister Nurbaya, as conveyed by Wiratno, is that, "This is a matter of state jurisdiction and if there are other parties involved, they need to adhere to a protocol that doesn't violate this jurisdiction. That's why we must start taking these steps."

Numerous motives identified

The director general explained that there are numerous motives underlying these fund-raising efforts, the narratives and substance of which are irresponsible and misleading.

“We have found many cases in which fund-raising campaigns exaggerate the facts. The people behind these campaigns make out like the Indonesian government is not working and even position themselves as heroes who have saved key Indonesian wildlife species,” he lamented.

The key wildlife species most commonly focused on by the individuals, groups and organizations involved the misleading fund-raising campaigns, according to Wiratno, are the Sumatran orangutan, tiger and elephant, the Tapanuli and Bornean orangutan, as well as the Sumatran and Javan rhino.  

The following photos show Bornean orangutans in a palm oil concession's conservation block. This flagship species is very often the object of fund-raising campaigns which are conducted irresponsibly.

Delegitimizing government efforts

The director general pointed out that social media has been used, among other ways, to track fund-raising campaigns which constantly deliver negative narratives and convey the impression that it is only them working to save key Indonesian wildlife species.

"In fact, after exploring in more detail, it turns out their work is not clear and no reports have been sent to the ministry. As such, we are continuing to monitor these questionable practices," he warned. 

These fund-raising campaigns are also deceptive by declaring on social media that efforts made by the government on the ground level are actually their own. 

"These fund-raising campaigns are completely unethical and embarrassing. Strangely, they continue to use these improper methods as a way of seeking funding," he said.

He went on to urge individuals, groups and organizations which engage in fund-raising aimed at supporting the protection of vital Indonesian wildlife habitat to report their work and performance to the ministry.

He cautioned them, however, not to “exaggerate the facts on the ground in order to secure funding from donor groups and the public.”

“Starting early next year, we are going to stop these fund-raising campaign practices because they exploit key Indonesian wildlife species, mislead the public, and delegitimize ongoing and intensive government efforts,” Director General Wiratno asserted in conclusion.