Further worrying is the variety of wildlife being hunted. This includes critically endangered and protected species like the orangutan and tiger, as well as sun bears, tapir, serow, pangolin all other primate species. It can be said that there are few species that would not be hunted and consumed.
Although it is not wholly clear what numbers of orangutans fall prey to local communities around Batang Toru, the hunting of each and every individual can be seen as a threat to the population. A total of 74 out of 2811 respondents claimed to have killed an orangutan in the recent past. It is not clear whether part of this is bragging or in fact real.
Law enforcement regarding hunting of protected wildlife is low at best in Indonesia, and it can be said at an ultimate low in Tapanuli where the predominantly Batak communities pride themselves about the fact that they will eat anything with wings or 4 feet, except for a plane or a table!
Another species heavily hunted around the Batang Toru forest are pangolins, with perversely a ‘breeding farm’ licensed by the conservation department, a tool for laundering illegally caught pangolins as captive-bred animals for the wildlife trade that is disseminating this species.
Bats are also seriously hunted. This includes large fruit bats (Pteropus vampyrus) but also several smaller fruit bats harvested from caves in large numbers. The uncontrolled hunting of bats can lead to serious ecological problems as bats are the main pollinators of a large number of tree species, but also many economically and commercially important fruit species like durian, petai, mango and close to 100 other commercial species.
YEL has produced and disseminated posters in Batak and Nias language highlighting the laws regarding hunting and protected species to all remote villages and hamlets, but new innovative approaches need to be tried to reduce this serious threat to the already compromised remaining wildlife populations.