Dismay Over Plans for Indonesia’s Captive Dolphins
Source : Jakarta Globe, Stephen Schaber | June 16, 2011
The Indonesian government plans to bypass environmental groups and dump captive dolphins in the ocean without proper rehabilitation, according to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network’s press release issued Thursday morning.
“Without rehabilitation the dolphins have a very small chance of survival,” Femke Den Haas, Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) founder, said.
The Indonesian government plans to return all the dolphins held without permits directly back to the sea without prior retraining. But the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with JAAN in October 2010 that arranged for all dolphins to be rehabilitated by JAAN before being returned to the wild.
JAAN runs the world’s largest dolphin rehabilitation center, located on Karimun Jawa Island.
“JAAN’s hope is that the government will follow the MOU and place the dolphins in the care of the JAAN for rehab before release,” according to the press release.
The group became aware of the government’s plan during meetings with Darori, the director general of Indonesia’s Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA).
The PHKA plans to release the dolphins previously held at the Taman Safari Center in Batang and with a traveling circus based in Kendal, according to Den Haas. The traveling circus holds six permits but owns more than 20 dolphins.
There are more than 50 dolphins kept in captivity without permits in Indonesia, the founder added.
She said dolphins require rehabilitation to regain muscle strength and hunting instincts before returning to their natural habitat.
“They have been in unnatural conditions where they swim in circles and are fed by handlers,” Den Haas said. “They must be re-trained to swim straight and hunt for food.”
Dolphins must also be trained to re-use their sonar system.
They stop using the sonar because it annoys them,” Den Haas said. “When in captivity they stop using it because the signal bounces [off the walls of the pool] and returns to them.”
According to Pramudya Harzani, JAAN director, the dolphins require between one and six months of rehabilitation, depending on how long they were held in captive.
JAAN said ideally the dolphins would be released around Karimun Jawa Island because there was a good chance the dolphins would reconnect with their families.
“Every dolphin has a unique sound and the ability to transmit its signal tens of miles,” Den Haas said.
“We will utilize GPS pegging after release to monitor whether the dolphins have reunited with their families.”