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SOS Rhino : In the News : Insurance vetted for losses from animal forays

Insurance vetted for losses from animal forays

  The Jakarta Post online

March 10, 2006

Tb. Arie Rukmantara, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is considering providing life and property insurance for people living in jungle areas prone to rampages by wild animals.

The plan is expected to help curb the killing of the animals after they stray into human settlements because of the loss of their habitat.

"We are planning to insure the lives and property of people living near the habitat of wild beasts to ensure that people won't harm these animals," Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said Wednesday.

He added the insurance scheme would provide compensation for every life lost and also property damaged by wild animals on the condition that people would not harm or kill the animals, many of which are endangered.

The idea came after 17 Sumatran elephants rampaged in villages in Bengkalis regency in Riau, destroying houses and oil palm plantations, in the past two weeks.

Locals tried to scare away the animals with traditional means such as torches, although others wounded the elephants with weapons. A herd of six elephants also was found dead in Riau last week and was believed to have been poisoned by locals.

Environmentalists and conservation officials have said that due to destruction of their habitat for development and illegal activities, elephants have posed a constant threat to humans.

Kaban said his office was still negotiating with Takaful insurance company on who to formulate the amount of the premiums and the compensations.

"Since this is a new insurance scheme, we are still discussing the details," he said, adding the money would come from the State Budget.

"But I don't know yet how much we will allocate for the insurance scheme because we first have to discuss the issue with the legislature."

Large land mammals, such as the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger, are severely endangered from poaching and loss of habitat. The Bali and Javan subspecies of the tiger are believed to have become extinct in the latter half of the 20th century, while a tiny population of the Javan rhino survives in Ujung Kulon on the westernmost tip of the island.

Ecologists announced Monday that Sumatra, along with peninsular Malaysia, were considered most vulnerable to species extinctions in the future, with 284 species listed as endangered. Other Indonesian islands listed were Java (131 species), Sulawesi (130 species), Maluku (99 species) and Nusa Tenggara (86 species).

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