Whilst we work hard to improve conditions and legal requirements for captive animals in Europe and America, the sad fact is that many countries have no animal welfare legislation at all, and captive facilities with appallingly mistreated animals are able to persist and even multiply. Such is currently the case in Indonesia, where the establishment of privately owned ‘animal parks’ is on the increase and previous surveys found that around 90% failed to meet basic welfare standards. Whilst the local Forestry Department has authority over such establishments they have generally lacked the political will or expertise to address this issue.
The province of East Java, on the country’s most populous island, has at least 10 animal parks. The local Forest Department had taken a bold and progressive decision to evaluate and improve the welfare conditions in these facilities some years back. Working with local groups, the Indonesian Society for Animal Welfare and ProFauna Indonesia, it began the process of developing the knowledge, skills and strategy required to crack down on such establishments across the province.
The first stage in developing this programme was a workshop held in December 2007 and funded by Born Free, World Society for the Protection of Animals, and Humane Society International (Australia). The three day event was attended by over 100 Forest Department officers and covered a broad introduction to animal welfare, behavioural enrichment, and evaluating captive animal facilities. As well as increasing the skills of the attendees it also further cemented the relationship between the local groups and the authorities, and the commitment to proceed with the programme.
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