May 23, 2019

PHOTOS: Orangutans living in palm oil concession

JAKARTA ( - Ground-based evidence uncovered by proves that critically-endangered Bornean orangutans are still living in two blocks of high conservation value (HCV) areas set aside by PT KAL, a palm oil company controlled by Jakarta-listed business group PT ANJT Tbk. 

This reaffirms the need for the EU - whose recently-adopted delegated act seeks to phase out the use of palm oil in biofuels - to collaborate with palm oil companies if it wishes to play a role in ensuring the survival of Bornean orangutans, a significant number of which are still found in existing concessions.

As previously reported by (May 9), PT KAL's concession includes a large HCV area - equivalent to over 70% the size of Brussels - which is integral to the fate of 108 Bornean orangutans

In addition, the ANJT palm oil company has also set aside a smaller HCV area in the concession concerned, spanning an area equal to more than 650 soccer fields and home to 42 Bornean orangutans.

This means that, in total, there are at least 150 Bornean orangutans living in the two HCV blocks in the ANJT-controlled palm oil concession situated in West Kalimantan's Ketapang regency. 

The following new photos, taken by the team, show Bornean orangutans in the HCV areas lying in the ANJT palm oil concession. The fate of these orangutans lies in the hands of ANJT which continues to protect them as of today.

EU delegated act poses new threat 

The EU and its stakeholders need to consider the fact that the fate of numerous Bornean orangutans depends on the HCV areas set aside by palm oil companies.

It should have realized that the EU Delegated Act - by restricting palm oil used for biofuels - presents a new threat to the survival of Bornean orangutans living in HCV and high carbon stock (HCS) areas across various palm oil concessions.

The new photos below portray the second block of HCV areas in the ANJT-owned concession in which Bornean orangutans continue to reside. This case should open the EU's eyes and prompt it to collaborate with palm oil companies for the sake of the survival of these Bornean orangutans.

More than twice the size of Paris

As detailed in recent news reports by during May, there are Bornean orangutan-inhabited forests in four palm oil concessions in West Kalimantan province, encompassing a total area more than double that of Paris.

This is the area calculated from just these four existing palm oil concessions. It would increase substantially if the Bornean orangutan habitat in many other palm oil concessions - comprising areas already set aside and those that could be set aside to protect Bornean orangutans - is also taken into account. 

If the EU uses a forward-thinking approach, it would realize that the adoption of the EU delegated act, with its adverse effect on the palm oil industry, certainly does not facilitate the survival of the Bornean orangutan.

Indeed, if the recently-adopted EU delegated act is the EU's single decision, this would be tantamount to a declaration that it has no respect for the fate of the Bornean orangutans, not to mention Sumatran orangutans, which continue to inhabit the forested parts of many palm oil concessions in Indonesia.

To underline his serious opposition to the EU delegated act, President Joko Widodo emphasized in his joint letter with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that there will be no room for compromise with the EU if the EU delegated act enters into force.