JAKARTA (AFP) Apr 16, 2003
Almost 550 species of Indonesian wildlife are on the verge of extinction
due to the destruction of their habitats and illegal collectors,
a report said Wednesday.
"Indonesia's orangutan, rhinoceros, elephant, ox, tiger, monkey,
cockatoo, eagle and turtle are among these endangered species,"
coordinator of the Yogyakarta Wild Animal Preservation, Ferry Ardyanto,
was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying.
Ardyanto blamed a trend among wealthier Indonesians for keeping
exotic animals, birds or reptiles as pets.
"The number of people who keep wild animals as pets is increasing.
They however do not know exactly how to look after them," he
said, describing existing regulations on animal protection as ineffective.
A conservation official called last month for a tax on exotic pets,
which are seen as status symbols.
Several members of the moneyed elite keep exotic pets ranging from
orangutans, honey bears, gibbons, monkeys, turtles and even small
crocodiles. The practice is illegal but prosecutions are rare.
Thousands of rare and protected animals and birds are also smuggled
out of Indonesia every month with the complicity of officials.