Fate of Orangutan and Sumatran Tiger has glimmer of hope

Press release - 8 October, 2004
Greenpeace welcomes the decision of the world's governments to take stricter measures to control the widespread criminal trade in ramin timber from the endangered habitat of the Orang-utan and the SumatranTiger. Given the high volume of illegal trade in this species, a greatchallenge lies ahead for all governments to implement and enforce thisdecision.

Orangutan - head and shoulders visible.

The Parties to the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), being held in Bangkok, voted to list ramin on Appendix II and place restrictions that forbid the export and import of the timber coming from illegal and destructive activities.

"Today's decision provides governments with the necessary legal and enforcement measures to crack down on the smuggling of illegal ramin and those criminal networks who control this trade,"said Nathalie Rey of Greenpeace. "To date, neither Malaysia, Singapore nor Indonesia have stopped the regional illegal trade in ramin logs, squared off logs and sawntimber. This decision will inject the necessary legal support to achieve the protection of the threatened areas where this tree is found."

Despite all previous attempts to block international conservation efforts for ramin, the Malaysian government announced in the meeting that it would support the listing and would make all efforts to enforce regulations. This announcement follows new evidence release by Greenpeace this week of Malaysia's involvement in the illegal imports from Indonesia of this valuable timber species.

The lowland forests of Indonesia and Malaysia, where ramin trees grow, provide the last rainforest habitat for the Orang-utan and the Sumatran Tiger. Although both are protected by CITES, they are facing unprecedented loss of their forest homes throughout the region. These areas have long been targeted by illegal loggers and criminal networks who trade the high value timber onto the international market.

Ramin timber usually ends up in private homes as window blinds and baby cots; and in snooker and pool halls all over the world as cue sticks. The greatest demand comes from countries such as the US, Italy, Japan and the UK.

"The fate of the Orang-utan and the Sumatran Tiger still hangs in the balance. Governments involved in the international trade of ramin timber now need to convert words into urgent action," continued Rey. "Greenpeace urges the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to take immediate steps to combat ramin smuggling and work with importing nations to eliminate this forest crime."

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.