Editorial – Unnatural Disaster

As Sophia Read writes in this edition’s Beneath the Surface column, new and astounding species of wildlife are constantly being discovered in this country. Yet as fast as the finds are announced, creatures we have long-since known about are dying out – because of man.

Page one carries a report from Pramuka Island off Jakarta’s coast on the imminent demise of one of the great mammals of our oceans, the magnificent hawksbill turtle.

Where once the waters around the island – part of the Thousand Island chain that has become a favored weekend getaway for city-dwellers – were teeming with turtles, who would lay their eggs on its beaches, nowadays they are a rarity.

Pollution from ever-expanding Jakarta is to blame, according to environmentalists, as well as the tourist trade: turtle shell, however much a naff trinket, continues to sell.

Lamentably, the hawksbill turtle is on a long list of critically endangered species in this country that includes our near relative the orangutan, the Sumatran tiger and many more.

Just as Indonesia’s primordial forests are being raped at astounding rates, so too is the country’s wildlife. The forced march to extinction is relentless and although there is protective legislation in place, sadly there is neither the will nor the personnel to enforce it.

Want proof?

So-called bird markets in Jakarta and Bali are teeming with endangered animals that are offered up for sale for meager amounts. Want a baby orangutan? No problem. Bird of Paradise? It’s yours. Sun Bear? Right over here, Sir.

Even sharks in Indonesian waters are not immune to destruction, with Indonesia one of the world’s biggest producers of shark fin-related products, the result of an horrific procedure in which the fish has its dorsal fin hacked off and is commonly thrown back into the water to die an excruciating death. The brutality of humanity is shocking.

With apathy all around, expect to hear a lot more about Indonesia’s fauna losses in the near years to come.

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The Island

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