(7 Oct 2022) The Indonesian government disputes a recent report from a specialist group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature that estimates there are fewer than 50 Sumatran rhinos left in the wild.
Even before Dutch conservation scientist Erik Meijaard submitted an opinion piece to The Jakarta Post last month, he was worried about how the Indonesian government would react. In the article, he and four other Western scientists challenged the government’s claims that orangutan populations in the country are thriving. Meijaard was aware that Indonesia is increasingly wary of “foreign interference” in conservation matters and had invited eight Indonesian collaborators to co-author the article. None agreed to do so.
After the piece ran on 14 September, the reaction was swift. In a letter issued that same day, Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry and Environmental Affairs (KLHK), said the authors had “discredited” the government and banned them from doing research in Indonesia. It also ordered national parks and KLHK offices around the country to tell the ministry’s headquarters about any research conducted by foreign scientists. Data from such research would be subject to monitoring and control by KLHK from now on.
The story in full is here.