Tell Travellers Worldwide, stop exploiting Sepilok orangutans!

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Travellers Worldwide is a British company which is refusing to stop the exploitation of Critically Endangered Malaysian orangutans, an animal at risk of extinction. If you love orangutans and care about their future please join our campaign by signing and sharing our petition. CLICK HERE to sign and share now.

Every four weeks the company sends up to 12 unqualified paying individuals to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) in the Malaysian Bornean state of Sabah, Malaysia, to be part of the ‘rehabilitation’ of orangutans. Each individual pays US$ 3,180. SORC is managed by the Sabah state government.

According to the Travellers Worldwide website these individuals, called “volunteers”, are able to, among others, monitor, feed and manage orangutans who are under rehabilitation for potential forest release in the future. However, this practice, which can and should be done by SORC staff only, can have serious negative impacts for orangutans under rehabilitation and yet has continued for over 15 years.

Without their mothers orphan orangutans need familiarity and trust, and should therefore only bond with the minimal number of caregivers as possible in their early years as the apes are guided through the rehabilitation process. Having ever changing personnel working hands on with rehabilitant orangutans increases the risk of the orangutans becoming far too comfortable with humans, thus increasing the instance of human habituation as these animals’ interests are diverted away from natural behaviours and interactions within the forest environment.

It is no surprise that SORC has for many years faced major problems with orangutans habituated to humans, made worse by its unethical and unsustainable orangutan tourism.

Orangutan conservationists have warned of the serious risks of rehabilitant orangutans becoming habituated to humans, such as encouraging terrestriality, which has been linked to increased vulnerability to predation, deficient nesting skills, poor arboreal travel, inefficient foraging, increased vulnerability to poachers and physical attacks on humans. All this can have dire consequences on the future of a species fighting for its survival.

Orangutan conservationists also recommend that orangutan rehabilitation be limited to a closed, qualified and stable group of people who always work with the same orangutans, ideally through their entire rehabilitation. These few dedicated caregivers promote trust and provide social and emotional support to rehabilitants.

We informed Travellers Worldwide of the effects their volunteering practice can have on the rehabilitant orangutans at SORC, yet they have chosen to ignore us in favour of continuing to exploit Malaysian orangutans for their own financial gain.

We call on the new Sabah state government and its Environment Minister, Datuk Christina Liew to put an end to the exploitation to help with the future of Sabah’s orangutans.

Sepilok orangutan tourism – here’s what’s wrong

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The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) is owned and managed by the Sabah state government. According to the website of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), “The aim of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is to return orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans back to the wild.” SORC is at the edge of the Sepilok-Kabili forest reserve (SKFR) where the centre’s ex-rehabilitant (released into forest after completion of rehabilitation) orangutans co-range with wild orangutans (born in SKFR and not ex-rehabilitants).

SORC is open to the public for tourism purposes. It has twice a day outdoor feeding sessions, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., where tourists can pay to enter and view orangutans feeding on a feeding platform adjacent to the centre. During visiting hours tourists are also able to view orangutans at the outdoor nursery area, supposedly undergoing rehabilitation.

The tourism at SORC, however, does not abide by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism and this is having an impact on the apes. Below are several points from the guideline, in relation to SORC, and our comments. A full copy of this guideline is available here.

 

Page 10 – Consequently, experts recommend that no tourism be allowed with rehabilitant orangutans that are eligible for or already returned to forest life (Rosen and Byers 2002).

Page 58 – No tourism should be allowed with reintroducable orangutans in rehabilitation centres, or in forests where rehabilitants range (Rosen and Byers 2002; Russon, Susilo and Russell 2004).

Ex-rehabilitant orangutans have been released into the SKFR while rehabilitant orangutans are also known to roam around SORC. Exposing ex-rehabilitant/rehabilitant and wild orangutans to large numbers of people such as at SORC and without abiding IUCN best practices increases habituation to humans among these apes. Human habituation can seriously effect orangutans, including hampering an orangutan’s chances of living independently in a forest and increasing their susceptibility to poachers, among other effects. To make matters worse, SORC allows rotating volunteers to be part of the rehabilitation process. These individuals pay to volunteer at SORC for four weeks and there are a maximum of twelve people in a group. Habituation to humans also inevitably leads to increase in instances of contact or close proximity between tourists and orangutans at SORC and this does not only escalate disease transmission risks (such as hepatitis and influenza) among humans-orangutans but expose both to physical attacks. In 2017 an ex-rehabilitant orangutan attacked a tourist. Although there are attempts to control crowds by staff during feeding sessions at SORC it is a challenge to control movements of habituated orangutans and a challenge for staff to be at all areas during visiting hours, as our video shows. We have previously received reports of orangutans mugging tourists of their belongings and have been told of ‘problem’ orangutans vanishing from SORC; Sabah state officials never commented after they were asked of this. Orangutans have also been seen at hotels and other tourist attractions outside SORC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 10 – Orangutan tourism focused on rehabilitants, especially when visited in unnatural contexts such as cages and feeding platforms and by extremely large numbers of visitors, does not meet many of the criteria that define ecotourism and as such should not be promoted as ecotourism or considered best practice.

The main purpose of having a twice a day feeding sessions at SORC is to lure orangutans to the feeding platform for tourism purposes. We are unaware if SORC has also labeled itself as an ecotourism attraction. However, tour agencies may label SORC as a ecotourism destination to lure customers and this gives tourists a wrong impression of orangutan conservation.

 

Page 49 – There should be no more than one visit per day to each group of apes (or individual/ party/forest area in the case of chimpanzee and orangutan tourism).

SORC has twice a day feeding sessions. Having more than one visit per day increases the instance of orangutan habituation to humans and in turn increase disease transmission and physical risks between humans-orangutans at SORC.

 

Page 49 – All tourists and staff who are likely to approach habituated apes to within 10 metres should wear a surgical quality N95 respirator mask for the duration of their one-hour visit. Respirators that filter out higher percentages of aerosolised particles are also acceptable (i.e., N99 or N100).

Tourists to SORC are not required to wear a respirator mask. Staff managing crowds near the feeding platform have also not been seen wearing a mask. With reference to orangutans, it is important to note that “habituated apes” mentioned above refers to arboreal (in trees) wild orangutans that are not stressed when viewed and followed by tourists from the ground or from boats while strictly abiding other guidelines. This respirator mask requirement is even more urgent at SORC considering there are habituated orangutans that travel terrestrially, including on human made structures, and have been seen getting to within less than 10 metres or even into direct contact with SORC tourists.

 

Page 50 – Children below 15 years old must not be allowed to visit great apes. While parents may argue against this regulation on the basis that their child is capable of the hike or mature enough to control their fear, this safeguard is primarily for health reasons. Young people are more likely to be infected with common childhood diseases, even when properly vaccinated, and therefore pose a much greater health risk to habituated apes.

There is no entry age limit at SORC and children can often be seen at the centre.

 

 

Page 57 – Individual orangutans should not be visited by tourists for more than 10 days per month. Tourism to individual orangutans should be suspended for at least 3 months per year. Note that if all habituated orangutans at a particular site use the same area of forest, periodic closure of the site is recommended.

SORC is open to tourism 365 days a year.

 

Additional note:

The Sabah Wildlife Department and state government might argue that tourists are not allowed into areas where the rehabilitation process of SORC orangutans take place. However, the effect of unsustainable orangutan tourism (and volunteering) can impede the progress of orphans undergoing rehabilitation at SORC for potential wild release. In addition, it is wrong to assume that ex-captives are ‘rehabilitated’ when let out of rehabilitation areas: they still have to learn to forage and travel independently, integrate into the reserve’s orangutan community. A British orangutan organisation which works in Sabah made the statement below when commenting on sending SORC orangutans to a luxury hotel in Sabah under the guise of rehabilitation. FOTO Malaysia stopped the exploitation in 2016. The highlighted parts below refers to the effect of habituated orangutans at SORC on orangutans undergoing rehabilitation at the centre.

 

Source: https://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/about-us/news/article/a-short-satement-regarding-the-facts-surrounding-ten-ten

 

Have questions? Click here to write to us.

Zoo Negara’s cruel treatment of orangutans and chimps

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Please take action for the orangutans and chimpanzees at Zoo Negara by retweeting our tweet, click here to retweet now. More action plans will be posted on our website soon.

The national zoo of Malaysia, Zoo Negara, a World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) member, has been keeping orangutans and chimps in tiny, barren cages, where the apes seem barely able to move, for years. This is a cruel manner to keep these intelligent animals in. This zoo keeps pandas from China, over US $20 million have been spent on them, while the Malaysian government forks out over half a million dollars annually on the upkeep of the bears. In 2019 at least $1.7 million dollars will be spent.

While tens of millions have been spent on the pandas, orangutans, the iconic animals of Malaysia and Indonesia are being treated very differently. Zoo Negara, which is reportedly under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on allegations of corruption, has been keeping orangutans in very tiny concrete cells, where the apes spend over 12 hours a day when the zoo is closed. We have conveyed our concerns to the zoo, who appear to show little interest in improving the lives of the orangutans. Besides, chimps are also kept in the same, shameful manner.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, we have also informed Zoo Negara that the outdoor Bornean orangutan enclosures need to be significantly improved. Yet months on the zoo appear to have done very little to provide a better quality of live for the red apes when they are on display to zoo visitors. The current enclosures lack:

  • Arboreal locomotion opportunities. It is important for zoos to try and mimic orangutans’ life in the wild and allow them to exhibit their natural behaviours. Here’s an example.
  • Lack of hiding areas. Zoo animals need to be given the opportunity to hide from public view when they desire. Not being able to do so can increase stress on the animals.
  • Lack of shade from the rain and sun.
  • Lack of enrichment items. Enrichment is one of the most important elements for zoo animals, to keep them physically and psychologically active while promoting natural behaviours.

 

 

What can you do? Share this article, tweet (see above) and boycott Zoo Negara until they vastly improve the lives of their orangutans and chimps.

Welfare concerns on release plan of two Sepilok orangutans

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Photo: two young orangutans grab a tourist at SORC

Earlier this year FOTO Malaysia questioned the release of a habituated Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) orangutan called ‘Tiger’. Our statement, which was also printed by a local media outlet, was not responded to by the Sabah Wildlife Department, a Sabah government agency which manages SORC. Tiger is now back at SORC. Read our statement here.

On 2 October 2019, the Borneo Post (and other media outlets) reported that the Sabah Wildife Department now plan to send two “rehabilitated” orangutans, Ceria and Rosa, from SORC to release them into the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, a protected forest in eastern Sabah.

Both Rosa and Ceria were reported to have arrived at SORC at age one. Rosa is now 18 years old while Ceria is 13, based on web postings by a British organisation. Rosa was once labeled as often seen at SORC while she waited to steal from “her next victim” while Ceria was “Often seen: causing mischief whenever possible! Keep a safe distance from Ceria if you spot him!“. Rosa gave birth to her baby in captivity at SORC in May 2018, based on a source. A video uploaded on YouTube apparently shows Rosa and her baby on a tourist boardwalk near SORC. We also invite SWD to comment if Rosa’s infant is still in her care.

Ceria, meanwhile, is known among SORC staff as a physical risk to staff and tourists, according to sources. He attacked a SORC tourist in 2017. The attack is no fault of Ceria’s, unsustainable tourism and hands-on volunteering practice at SORC is what is causing human habituation among orangutans at SORC. A SWD staff informed us that SORC is now wary of legal repercussions resulting from physical risks to tourists who visit the centre.

In the area of orangutan rehabilitation it is not common for orangutans saved at age one to take 10-15 years to be rehabilitated, and released as adults. Before they are moved to Tabin SWD needs to be completely transparent and explain on what basis they are transferring Rosa and Ceria, who are both completely habituated to humans. Another SWD staff confided in us that SORC is worried that the media would find out about the behaviour and risks posed by the centre’s habituated orangutans. Was this also a reason in deciding to move Ceria and Rosa out of SORC?

We would like to question if both have been proven to forage on a daily basis on their own in the Sepilok-Kabili forest and built nests, all while staying away from human attention and dependency. All data which led to SWD deciding to transfer them to Tabin should be made public, as recommended by the IUCN, before the transfer is made.

The SWD should also inform for how many months they plan to conduct Post Release Monitoring – vital in ensuring the survivability of released orangutans. Data for this should also be made public. The previous release of a habituated orangutan called Tiger, which we were told was his second release, was again a failure again and his future is now in doubt once more. On 3 September 2019 SWD once again said they plan to release Tiger. There should also be full transparency on his planned release, including Post Release Monitoring results.

While Tiger was sent back to SORC in December 2018 the centre continued to play a video which included parts showing Tiger’s release into Tabin, which would have given the impression to SORC visitors that Tiger was living a free orangutan in Tabin when he was actually in a cage at SORC. As of August 2019 this video was still playing at SORC.

Photo: Tiger in his cage at SORC

British company refuses to stop exploitation of Malaysia’s orangutans

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Travellers Worldwide is a British company which offers volunteering opportunities around the world. One of these places is at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) in Malaysia. SORC is owned and managed by the Sabah state government. According to the website of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), “The aim of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is to return orphaned, injured or displaced orangutans back to the wild.”

Volunteers organised by Travellers Worldwide (TW) are placed for four weeks at SORC before a different group of 12 volunteers arrive to replace them. According to TW’s website (as of October 2019) each volunteer pays $3,180. Among other activities at SORC these volunteers are involved in the rehabilitation of orphan orangutans at the centre.

In September 2018 Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia wrote to TW to explain why this practice needs to be changed; TW volunteers can play an important role at SORC but without contact/potential contact with the orangutans undergoing rehabilitation for wild release. Unfortunately TW have thus far not shown us any interest in addressing our concerns. Therefore, in October 2019 we wrote again to TW to ask that the volunteering programme at SORC ceases and we have given a reasonable time frame for this to happen. Should TW refuse, FOTO Malaysia will campaign until the exploitation stops.

 

scsC

We compared this volunteering practice with two orangutan rehabilitation centres in Indonesia which conforms to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s best practice guidelines for great apes. At both rehabilitation centres only a handful of permanent, full time staff are directly involved in the rehabilitation process of their orangutans. SORC does have full time staff working at the centre on a daily basis but the two Indonesian centres do not allow volunteers to work with orangutans. Infact, one of the centres does not allow any form of volunteering.

Without their mothers orphan orangutans need familiarity, trust and bond with as minimal amount of caregivers as possible in their early years as the apes are guided through the rehabilitation process. Besides, having ever changing personnel working hands on with rehabilitant orangutans increases the risk of the orangutans becoming far too comfortable with humans, thus increasing the instance of human habituation. This could effect the chances of rehabilitant orangutans becoming viable wild release candidates.

Orangutan conservationists have also informed us that the volunteering practice at SORC needs to cease completely. Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia continues to urge Travellers Worldwide to cease the current volunteering practices at SORC and stop the exploitation of Malaysia’s orangutans.

Poor treatment for orangutans at Kemaman Zoo continues

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In January last year photos and reports showing the eye-watering treatment of orangutans and other animals at Kemaman Zoo in Terengganu made headlines in the media. The conditions seen in the reports were not new though. Animals at Kemaman Zoo have been kept in poor conditions for years and despite receiving flak a year ago it appears so far that little has changed at the zoo.
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When Kemaman Zoo was exposed last year Perhilitan, the wildlife department, dismissed all allegations of poor welfare of animals at the zoo. In contrast, the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (Mazpa) took action and suggested improvements to the zoo and we thank Mazpa for being transparent and sincere with their findings. Since then the zoo has made minimal changes at both orangutan enclosures but they are still insufficient to meet the intricate needs of captive orangutans.
 
According to a June 2018 news report a stunning RM 60 million had been spent on expanding a state owned zoo which is reportedly bleeding money. How much was spent to upgrade the existing shoddy state of animals?
 
The latest photos we received, which have been verified, show the continued substandard welfare conditions for orangutans with no sign of an enrichment programme in place. Kemaman Zoo has two enclosures for its orangutans. The indoor enclosure consist of large and smaller concrete cages and they are almost barren and there is nothing for the orangutans to do. The sight of the orangutans in the cages is a disgraceful one and will leave any zoo visitor to wonder why in this day and age Malaysia still keeps orangutans in such manner. Orangutans are intelligent animals and poor captive situations like at Kemaman Zoo can lead to psychological and physical problems. 
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The outdoor enclosure needs to be worked on. We have been informed that it tends to flood when the zoo is inundated with rain water, which may occur more often during the monsoon season in the east coast of the Peninsular. A staff at Kemaman town council (Majlis Perbandaran Kemaman) claimed in confidence that there is no proper moat drainage at the outdoor orangutan enclosure. We will leave for state officials to comment on this.
 
When the outdoor enclosure is overwhelmed with water it is dangerous to let the orangutans out, and this leaves them spending more time in the cages. Water moats as barriers should be avoided in the first place as it increases the risk of drowning, which happened to an orangutan at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Sabah in the past.
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All our emails to state officials and the zoo last year were not replied to. In June Terengganu menteri besar Dr. Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar welcomed assistance for the zoo and despite this state and zoo officials never responded to our offer to meet and help. Clearly the welfare of animals is not a concern of top zoo and state officials responsible for the zoo.
 
The sorry state of our orangutans and other wildlife at Kemaman Zoo needs to change. Instead of spending more money expanding the zoo and importing animals the state should spend on improving welfare of existing animals. We urge the public to boycott this zoo until vast changes have been made. We also ask KATS Minister Dr. Xavier Jayakumar to help the animals.
Photos: Malaysian Friends of Animals. Used with permission.

Was Sepilok orangutan’s release a success?

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Below is our full response to news of the release of one of Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre’s (SORC) orangutans, called Tiger. The release took place on 3 October 2018. Tiger’s release was widely covered by major news medias in Malaysia. Here is one of them. Tiger is now back at SORC.

 

LAST October, an orangutan called Tiger was moved from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Tiger’s transfer to Tabin, which was reportedly co-funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, was labelled as his “journey to freedom” and return to “the wild” by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

A British figure influential in Sabah claimed that “another magnificent orangutan is saved”. Several major media outlets published news of the transfer and release.

However, we would like to question whether Tiger’s release into Tabin was a success for orangutan conservation in Sabah, especially since Tiger was relocated back to SORC in December 2018 and has since been kept in a cage.

Photo: Tiger in his cage at SORC

There appears to be no mention in the media of Tiger’s return to SORC, unlike the fanfare by SWD when he was released into Tabin.

Did SWD decide not to inform the press yet to avoid causing public relations embarrassment to Sabah?

We have tried to make this letter as easy as possible for the public to understand and they can make up their mind after reading this.

When rehabilitant orangutans are released into a forest, there needs to be “post-release monitoring” (PRM).

It is a challenging yet crucial part of orangutan conservation as after release, researchers will track an orangutan to ensure it is able to adapt and survive in a new forest area.

It also enables intervention if the orangutan is proven to be unable to adapt or even needs medical attention. Therefore, PRM is also important for welfare reasons.

A top SWD officer said attempts would be made to monitor Tiger upon release, yet we were informed that there was no PRM done.

If this is untrue, we invite the SWD to release Tiger’s PRM details. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also recommends that PRM data be made public.

Tiger, reported to be 19 years old, is a fully matured flanged male. In a forest, flanged, dominant orangutan males establish their territory and generally stay within it their entire lives.

Introducing Tiger into a jungle virtually alien to him could have led to brutal physical conflicts with other resident, dominant orangutan males, and as Tiger has been at SORC for more than 15 years, he may not have the survival/feral attributes of a totally wild dominant orangutan male.

This affects his ability to defend and establish himself in his new home. Moving Tiger into Tabin could have also disrupted the native resident orangutan population.

SWD claimed that Tiger was doing well at SORC and were confident that he would forage well in Tabin. However, this can only be confirmed through persistent PRM, which can take months to complete.

SORC is inundated with unsustainable tourism practices till this day (the public will know more about this soon) and human habituation could affect an orangutan’s ability to adapt upon release.

We have also been informed in the past that Tiger had spent considerable amount of time in cages at SORC.

Based on the above, would it be a surprise to anyone that Tiger was relocated back to SORC? We were informed that, in short, Tiger became a danger to people and himself and SWD had no choice but locate and transfer him back to SORC before things got out of hand.

Why was Tiger sent to Tabin? Releasing a 19-year-old flanged male so he may “go back into the wild” is unheard of in the area of orangutan rehabilitation.

Inform a well-meaning orangutan conservationist that a 19-year-old flanged male is going to be “wild released” to a new forest area and immediately there will be a number of concerns raised.

SWD claim that the forest adjacent to SORC is too small for Tiger and thought he would “survive better in the wild”.

Or does the real problem lie in the fact there are already dominant males around SORC and SWD wanted to avoid more PR disasters, especially after a tourist was attacked there by a “problem” orangutan two years ago?

Several Malaysian conservationists have expressed their opinion to us and allege that SWD was merely getting rid of an orangutan now too big and dangerous to handle.

There are other male orangutans around SORC and they are reported to be a risk to tourism activity at the centre. These males are growing larger and stronger and will cause bigger issues once they hit puberty. While females continue to reproduce.

Going back to the subject of PRM, it is a gruelling task to trail an adult orangutan male as he travels far and wide in the wild.

However, if there is no PRM made and lack of information on Tiger’s survivability after release, this orangutan’s move to Tabin in October cannot be called a conservation success. Instead it now looks like it was an embarrassing failure.

This is a public relations practice by the SWD, which has shown no interest in transparency in our private communications with it, despite a new government.

The SWD knew what it was doing and thus could be accused of deliberately misleading Malaysians on what orangutan conservation really looks like.

This greenwashing needs to stop and we urge the public to demand the SWD to be transparent on Tiger’s future.

Company owned by Malaysians clearing PNG forests

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Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia has published a press release to bring to light the clearing of forests in Papua New Guinea by a vcompany owned by a Malaysian family. Satellite images showing continued clearing in the palm oil company’s development area available at this link. Four photos in the same link courtesy of Global Witness. You have permission to reprint the press release below and use the satellite images and photos. Please credit Global Witness for the photos.

 

PRESS RELEASE, 30th August 2018 – Company owned by Malaysians clearing PNG forests.

A palm oil company owned by a prominent Malaysian family is threatening Papua New Guinea’s unique forest ecosystem and is presenting a serious risk to palm oil industry sustainability policies, according to NGO Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia [FOTO].

The Bewani Oil Palm Plantations Limited [BOPPL], headquartered in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea, has cleared an estimated 25,000 hectares of forests including an estimated 12,000 ha in the last four years since obtaining a lease for the palm oil development project in 2010, claims FOTO.

“BOPPL obtained a lease for almost 140,000 of forests eight years ago. These are pristine rainforests are made up of primary and secondary forests. Destroying forests for palm oil or any other agricultural crop is unacceptable and must stop”, says NGO director Upreshpal Singh.

FOTO adds that BOPPL holds a Special Agricultural Business Lease, or SABL, which is an agricultural lease given out to developers by the PNG government on behalf of customary landowners.

In 2013, a report by the PNG Commission of Inquiry into the Special Agriculture & Business Leases found widespread abuse, fraud and lack of accountability and transparency, among others, in the awarding of SABLs in the country. The commission report, which accused BOPPL as a company with a “chequered history”, also recommended that its SABL be revoked[1].

In early 2017, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that all SABLs in the country had been declared illegal and that they should be revoked[2], while earlier this year a PNG online news portal reported that BOPPL’s lease had been cancelled following a court decision due irregularities in the awarding process of SABLs [3], though this was contested in a major PNG newspaper owned by Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau[4].

FOTO adds that despite the uncertain legal status of BOPPL’s operations the company had continued to clear forests and satellite images show that clearing was taking place as of July this year. The company plans to plant 20,000 ha of oil palm trees by 2020[5] .

BOPPL is owned by nine members of the prominent Malaysian Tee family[6], who are also shareholders of eight palm oil mills in Peninsular Malaysia. These mills appear in the supply chains of companies with sustainable purchasing policy commitments including Sime Darby, IOI, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever and others.

FOTO wants traders buying from the palm oil mills owned by the Tee family to immediately suspend purchases and demand the latter to stop clearing on their BOPPL plantation in PNG.

“The palm oil industry is undergoing a shift since the last few years as more and more companies adopt sustainability policies and remove deforestation from their supply chains. That many of these companies are still buying palm oil from mills owned by individuals active in forest clearing undermines these sustainability policies and attempts to combat deforestation in the industry”, concludes Upreshpal.

-end-

References:

[1] http://www.coi.gov.pg/documents/COI%20SABL/Numapo%20SABL%20Final%20Report.pdf

[2] https://postcourier.com.pg/all-sabls-unlawful/

[3] http://www.looppng.com/png-news/cancelled-sabls-revealed-73107

[4] https://www.thenational.com.pg/bewani-oil-palm-project/

[5] https://postcourier.com.pg/20000-hectares-set-oil-palm-2019/

[6] https://chainreactionresearch.com/report/shadow-companies-present-palm-oil-investor-risks-and-undermine-ndpe-efforts/

 

Addendum:

Despite the uncertain legal status [of BOPPL’s lease as mentioned above], in June 2018 the National Planning & Monitoring Minister Richard Maru visited the plantation to review developments. He heard that the Bewani Oil Palm Plantation plans to plant 20,000 ha of palms by 2019, and the mill is currently undergoing tests before it is commissioned. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will officially commission the mill. One question that remains is how the Tee family are funding this venture.  With an investment cost of around RM30,000 per hectare for infrastructure and costs to maturity, the capital needed for a plantation of this size are significant.

The Bewani Oil Palm Plantation is owned by nine members of the Malaysian Tee family; Tee Kim Tee, Tee Cheng Hua, Tee Lip Jen, Tee Lip Chuan, Tee Chain Yee, Tee Lip Sin, Tee Lip Hian, Tee Ching Chan and Tee Cheng Hu. The project’s inauguration in October 2010 was attended by Tee Kim Tee, who publicly signed inauguration documents at the event.

The Tee family are also the majority shareholders of four palm oil mills (Tagar Properties, Rompin Palm Oil Mill, Prosper Palm Oil Mill and Endau Palm Oil Mill) and the minority shareholders of four other mills (KilangKosfarm, WujudWawasan, Kilang Sawira Makmurand Cheekah-Kemayan Plantations) in Peninsular Malaysia.These mills appear in the supply chains of companies with sustainable purchasing policy commitments, including Wilmar, IOI, Musim Mas, Bunge, Mewah, ADM, Sime Darby, AAK, Cargill, Colgate Palmolive, PepsiCo, Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills, Mondelez, P&G, Nestle, Olam, Mars and Unilever.

The Tee family’s shares in these eight mills are via several intermediary companies, commonly known as the Prosper Group of companies, and their mills typically appear in company supply lists as ‘Prosper Group’, or a variant of Prosper. The Prosper Group’s publicly listed plantation entity, Far East Holding Berhad, has two main shareholders: Prosper Trading Sdn Bhd and LKPP Corp (Pahang State’s Company for Agriculture Development).

Tee Kim Tee & Tee Cheng Hua are currently non-independent, non-executive directors of Far East Holdings Bhd, and minority shareholders. Tee Cheng Hua is also on the senior management team of Far East Holdings Bhd as Executive Director Plantations (as per the 2017 annual report). Family members Tee Lip Jen, Tee Kim Tee, Tee Cheng Hua, Tee Lip Chuan, Tee Chain Yee, Tee Lip Sin and Tee Lip Hian are also majority shareholders in Prosper Trading Sdn Bhd.

 

Response from Sentoria regarding chimps

posted in: News | 0

Below is the reply from Sentoria, the owner of Langkawi Nature Park and Bukit Gambang Safari Park, to FOTO’s director on 12 July. This are the explanations to reports and opinions on the chimps. The presss statement referred to below by Sentoria can be found at this link – https://www.facebook.com/LangkawiNaturePark/photos/a.1924629304456045/1967336520185323/?type=3

——————-

Thu 12-Jul-18 12:28 AM

Dear Mr. Upreshpal Singh,

We appreciate your concerns of the animal welfare and we assure no such misappropriate actions were done to our animals as the company has heavily invested to build zoos with proper licence obtained from the authority, obliging in conserving the wild life and adhering to any rules and regulations from the local authorities under the wildlife 2010 Act / Act 716.

The allegations on Sumomo, the 19-year old Chimpanzees being shot dead is not true. All relevant technical reports have been submitted to the investigation team from Jabatan Perhilitan Negeri Kedah. A press statement was also post in the social website to share the news transparently. The press statement is attached.

We recently had Perhilitan and MAZPA representatives visited and audited our Chimp’s enclosure & exhibit and we are glad all had met the requirements with minor additional or changes that has been addressed immediately. On the post-mortem report of the dead chimp sadly to say we cannot provide to public or any other parties as a full report was submitted to Perhilitan.

We hope the explanation will provide a peace of mind to you and parties concern on this matter.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Tan

Communications Department

Sentoria Themeparks and Resorts Sdn. Bhd.

On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 5:57 PM Upreshpal Singh <REDACTED> wrote:
Dear Dato Gan,

We hope to hear from the Sentoria management regarding our email on 2nd January, this week.

We have received news from Langkawi island that there are chimps at Sentoria’s new zoo, Langkawi Nature Park and we believe that these chimps were transferred from Bukit Gambang. However, there are only two chimps at LNP. May we know what has happened to the third chimp? If this chimp is dead, may receive its post mortem report and photos.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Upreshpal

Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant

From: Upreshpal Singh [REDACTED] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 21:11
To: REDACTED
Cc: REDACTED
Subject: Bukit Gambang Safari Park – chimpanzees

To: Dato Gan Kim Leong
Managing Director,
Sentoria Group Berhad,
56 & 58 Jalan Dagang SB 4/2,
Taman Sungai Besi Indah,
43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor DE

Dear Dato Gan,

With reference to the treatment of three chimpanzees at the Bukit Gambang Safari Park, we are forwarding a letter on behalf of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance [PASA] as per attached in this email. Will the management of Sentoria GB inform us if it will agree to rehoming the chimps to Africa? Our organisation joins the call by PASA to rehome the chimps to Africa.

Besides, may we also know the current status of the three chimps?

Looking forward to hearing from the management. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Upreshpal

Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant

—————————

Below  are all the emails sent to Sentoria before they replied on 12 July 2018.

Thu 24-May-18 12:53 AM

Dear Dato Gan,

Since my last email on January 20 [as per below] we have not received a reply from the management to our requests regarding the treatment of the chimps, now at Langkawi Nature Park [LNP]. We hope the Sentoria management will furnish us with the details we have requested previously.

In February our organisation contacted several staff members of Sentoria with regards to the alleged shooting of Sumomo the chimp at LNP. The staff contacted refused to comment on Sumomo’s fate and informed us to contact Dr. Adznan, though to our disappointment he never answered/returned our calls and text. Several days after our attempts on getting clarification on Sumomo, LNP finally admitted on its Facebook page that Sumomo has indeed died; albeit from kidney issues. With reference to our request on January 9, can the management please provide photos of Sumomo’s corpse and post mortem report[s]?

We are also awaiting evidence [photographic and data sheets] that while the chimps were at Bukit Gambang Safari Park they were given [daily] access to an enclosure.

We’re looking forward to hearing from your management.

Thank you.

Best regards,
Upreshpal
Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant

From: Upreshpal Singh [REDACTED] 
Sent: Saturday, January 20, 2018 04:33
To: REDACTED
Cc: REDACTED
Subject: RE: Bukit Gambang Safari Park – chimpanzees

Dear Dato Gan,

Further to our previous emails, may we know please if the three chimpanzees who were at Bukit Gambang Safari Park were never released into an enclosure while at the zoo, as mentioned in this article in December? If they were may we please receive evidence including photos of the chimps in the enclosure and data sheets? We would also appreciate other information including the diet data sheets of the chimps at Bukit Gambang.

Thank you for your kind cooperation.
Kind regards,
Upreshpal
Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant

From: Upreshpal Singh [REDACTED] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 09, 2018 17:57
To: REDACTED
Cc: REDACTED
Subject: RE: Bukit Gambang Safari Park – chimpanzees

Dear Dato Gan,

We hope to hear from the Sentoria management regarding our email on 2nd January, this week.

We have received news from Langkawi island that there are chimps at Sentoria’s new zoo, Langkawi Nature Park and we believe that these chimps were transferred from Bukit Gambang. However, there are only two chimps at LNP. May we know what has happened to the third chimp? If this chimp is dead, may receive its post mortem report and photos.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Upreshpal
Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant

From: Upreshpal Singh [REDACTED] 
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 21:11
To: REDACTED
Cc: REDACTED
Subject: Bukit Gambang Safari Park – chimpanzees

To: Dato Gan Kim Leong
Managing Director,
Sentoria Group Berhad,
56 & 58 Jalan Dagang SB 4/2,
Taman Sungai Besi Indah,
43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor DE

Dear Dato Gan,

With reference to the treatment of three chimpanzees at the Bukit Gambang Safari Park, we are forwarding a letter on behalf of the REDACTED as per attached in this email. Will the management of Sentoria GB inform us if it will agree to rehoming the chimps to Africa? Our organisation joins the call by REDACTED to rehome the chimps to Africa.

Besides, may we also know the current status of the three chimps?

Looking forward to hearing from the management. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Upreshpal
Upreshpal Singh
Director
www.fotomalaysia.org

Sign the petition to help save Lasah the elephant