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13 October 2017

Release of Endangered Wildlife to their Natural Habitat

To many, keeping a dog or a cat as a pet is normal. It is a joy to watch our pets around the house, especially when we spend time to play with them. Dogs and cats are the most pets usually found in households, and they may be described as the animals most close to humans.

But it’s another story if we keep rare and exotic pets whose real names we may not even be familiar with. Their exoticism may evoke admiration, but pens or cages are not their real homes. Their existence is also protected by law. Law no. 5 of 1990 Article 21 paragraph 2 states "It is prohibited to capture, injure, kill, keep, possess, care, transport, and trade alive/dead protected animals and parts thereof".

Take the Black-Headed Parrot, the Papua New Guinea soft-shell turtle, the red-Breasted Turtle, the Papua Freshwater Crocodile, the Double-Wattled Cassowary, the Ground Kangaroo, the Panama Lizard, and the Green Tree Python, for instance.  They are not familiar to your ears, are they?  These are the names of endangered animals released into the wild by the Mimika Regency Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) last August with full assistance from PTFI’s Environment Department, and engagement of a Multi-Party Forum comprising among others USAID Lestari, Lorentz National Park, the Quarantine Agency, and the Timika Wildlife Lovers Community. This activity to release animals into the wild was carried out in mid August in the Minajerwi forest. A total of 11 endangered and protected animals were returned to their natural habitats on this occasion.

PTFI by way of its Environment Department is already engaged in partnership with BKSDA and Lorentz National Park in Mimika Regency under its environmental conservation programs. Specifically in the release into the wild of rare and protected animals, PTFI had previously several times facilitated BKSDA since 2006 to carry through the release 41,000 of wildlife to their natural habitats. 

Through its Environmental Department’s Biodiversity group, PTFI facilitated the process to quarantine and care for the animals prior to their full release into the wild. BKSDA received the rare and endangered animals through community collection efforts. Some residents found the animals wandering near their homes, while others had kept them as pets but were unable to continue caring for them, or concerned residents had even intervened in the trading of these animals by locals and had bought the animals and handed them over to BKSDA. These animals handed over to BKSDA were then temporarily cared for at the Reclamation & Biodiversity Research Center in MP 21 in preparation for eventual release into the wild. 

The location selected this time around for the animals’ release into the wild was the Minajerwi wetland forest in the Lowlands. This location was chosen following a survey conducted by PTFI and BKSDA which resulted in the discovery of this pristine forest area that is relatively inaccessible to humans, but not too distant from the MP 21 area, to prevent the animals from becoming overstressed by a long journey. Using boat provided by PTFI’s Environment Department, the entourage departed for Minajerwi and released the animals into rivers and the forest.  

“PTFI will continue to work with others to support the conservation program in Papua, in particular in Mimika Regency,” he ended.  

After the animals are released into their natural habitats, PTFI and BKSDA will not cease to attend to the matter. Monitoring will ensue on a regular basis to ensure the animals adapt well to their natural surroundings. To facilitate monitoring, the animals were tagged with special identifying devices.   

To those of you who reside in the lowland area, specifically in Kuala Kencana that lies in close proximity to natural forests, should you come upon endangered wildlife wandering near your home, we appeal to you to help the poor animal to return to its habitat. You can contact PTFI Environmental Department’s Biodiversity section at 546-2853 or 546-2588 to have them safely restored to their natural habitat. Living in harmony with nature is critical and something we should advocate. (Sularso)

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