Indonesia accounts for some of the most diverse animal species. Its rainforests are of global importance, covering over 98 million hectares of land, making the country distinctly biodiverse and help work as a carbon offsetter that eliminates carbon dioxide produced by humans nationwide. There are more than 350,000 types of endemic animal species that belong to Indonesia that inhabit the forests. Unfortunately, the country’s forest resources are disappearing and taken advantage of for what it yields to the economy.
Indonesian forests continue to deplete at an alarming rate for industrialization and profitability and continue to do so. In the previous 32 years, 99 million acres of tropical rainforests in Indonesia have disappeared. Animals living in those habitats end up relocating to areas not suited for their nature and often become hunted, or accidentally encounter human societies and get captured. Indonesia has the fourth highest number of threatened species in the world with 772 species. Despite rich in biodiversity, Indonesia is also notorious as a country which has long list of the threatened wildlife.
According to IUCN, 2011; the threatened wildlife in Indonesia include 184 mammals, 119 birds, 32 reptiles, 32 amphibians, and 140 fish. There are 68 species which are critically endangered and 69 endangered species, and 517 vulnerable species. These wildlife will be eventually extinct if there is no action to save them from extinction.
Relevance to Climate Change
One major cause for the rise of species extinction in Indonesia is climate change. Climate change derives from many factors but essentially from human activities. It alters the weather that simultaneously changes the formation of land, especially in Indonesia and contributes to the risk of altering animal territories such as flooding, forest fires, pollution, etc. Research also shows that Indonesia contributes as much as 1.29 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste into the ocean annually, which eventually harms marine animal species.
Often these issues will incapacitate certain endemic species to the point of endangerment. In ecology, endemic species refers to a species that is native to where it is found. When certain endemic species become endangered or versatile, it affects part of the wildlife food chain and even the environment that is their habitat.
Take the Sumatran tigers for example. These tigers are native to Indonesia in the biogeographic area that includes Sumatra, Bali and Java. These tigers are on the verge of extinction, as there are currently less than 400 alive. The threat faced can be due to hunting that dates back to over a century and uncontrolled loss of their habitat. The prey they hunt is growing at an exponential rate.
At present, Indonesia’s government is doing an action rehabilitating the remaining population of the Sumatran tigers and other animals that are in similar threat by collaborating with environmental conservation programs that includes WWF-Indonesia and local communities.
In 2010, at the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, Indonesia and 12 other countries committed to a visionary goal of conserving the population of Sumatran tigers and multiplying their number by the end of 2022. They do this by looking after local parks where those animals live and creating policies to protect the ecosystem. An example is the undang-undang No.5 for the year 1990 that worked by sanctioning perpetrators to crimes against endangered animals by imprisonment of a maximum of 5 years or a fine of 1 hundred million rupiahs.
What Can We Do?
Foreseeing the prospects of Indonesia’s biodiversity and the government’s help, there are ways that we, ourselves as Indonesian citizens, can help prevent the endangerment of certain animal species. Because these issues often start with lack of education and awareness. We have the power to be able to start the action as a community by creating movements. It is a possible way of attracting attention from a larger group of people and eventually it will lead to people in power, including politicians and ministries.
Moreover, Indonesians can provide more socialization in their homes and schools about the topic of animal conservation, as well as those who live in areas close to animal habitats and can continue to support environmental conservation programs. Other than that, Indonesians should be aware that the leading causes of climate change are our own actions. We should contribute to reducing our vehicle usage, meaning we should only go out when it is needed, or we can start using public transport. Most crucially, we should bring more awareness to recycling programs that pertain to poor waste management and pollution. Everything begins with education.
Global Environmental Conservation Organization - WWF Indonesia [Internet]. WWF. [cited 2021Jul18]. Available from: https://www.wwf.id/spesies/harimau-sumatera
Rainforest Facts | Indonesia Rainforest Facts [Internet]. Official Orangutan Foundation International Site. 2014 [cited 2021Jul18]. Available from: https://orangutan.org/rainforest/rainforest-facts/
Yulianti Y. Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 5 Tahun 1990 Tentang Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Hayati dan Ekosistemnya. Nurani Hukum.