Since 1990, laws have been put in place to prevent any illegal trading or poaching of orangutans. Should one be found guilty of killing, capturing, keeping or trading any protected species or their body parts, the offender can be charged with the maximum penalty of a 5-year jail term, and a 100 million Rupiah fine.
Unsustainable and illegal logging is likewise prohibited by law. Under the system of Selective Cutting established in 1967, loggers can only harvest a limited amount of timber from the designated areas every year. Logging companies are also disallowed from cutting down trees less than 60cm in diameters. Other laws have also been instituted to prevent deforestation and slash-and-burn activities.
Yet, penalties for these laws are rarely carried out due to the lax law enforcement by the governing bodies. In doing so, the government is sending out the message to the offending parties that they can get away with harming the orangutans and their habitats.
The government attempted to redeem itself in December 2007, with the launch of Indonesia’s Strategy and Action Plan for National Conservation of Orangutans. The action plan was a formal endorsement of Indonesia’s commitment to orangutan conservation. Sadly, even after 7 years since the plan’s launch, there has been neither new protected areas arranged for orangutan conservation nor a land use change for any single orangutan population. More forests are continued to be converted into palm oil plantations.
On the whole, conservation efforts by the government is just all talk and no action. By simply having a stricter law enforcement, the laws already in place may just have the effect of deterring offenders from causing more devastating to the orangutan populations and habitats. Similarly, attempts have to be made by the governing body to actually keep to the commitments that they have made. Until then, orangutans will continue to pay the price with their chance at survival.