Orangutans To Be Extinct In 50 Years

Sabah’s
isolated orang utan population in lower Kinabatangan may become extinct in 50
years if no steps are taken urgently to set up wildlife corridor between
fragmented forests, says a The study funded by the Danish International
Development Agency (Danida).
    Scientific
journal Oryx in its latest publication said although the Kinabatangan
population of 1,100 orang utans was more then enough for their survival but
many of them were separated into small pockets of less then 250 animals.
    It says
much more work needs to be carried out to ensure the survival of the
orang-utan. It also stresses that that the “pockets” of orang-utan population
need a minimum number of 250 orang-utan individuals to survive in the long
term.
    “It is
essential that conservation measures are taken to protect orang-utans outside
national parks, and these measures will by necessity be specific to each
region,” Oryx wrote in the newly released paper entitled “Distribution and
conservation status of the orang-utan on Borneo and Sumatra:
How many remain?”
    Conservationists
and scientists from 16 institutions, including Hutan, a French NGO, wrote the
paper.
    The Sabah
Wildlife Department and Hutan have been studying orang-utan occurrence in
protected and unprotected areas for a number of years.
    Together
with their partners they have engaged the landowners such as the Sabah
Foundation, the Sabah Forestry Department as well as private landowners (mostly
palm oil companies) in developing innovative conservation strategies to address
the issue of orang-utans in unprotected areas.
    Genetic
modelling carried out by conservation geneticist Dr. Benoit Goossens of Cardiff University and Dr. Isabelle
Lackman-Ancrenaz of HUTAN had shown that the majority of the isolated
orang-utan populations in the Kinabatangan would go extinct in less than 50
years if nothing is done to reconnect the populations.
    “Having
‘wildlife corridors’ linking isolated lots of forest that are home to
orang-utan as well as other wildlife such as the Bornean pygmy elephants, are
absolutely crucial to ensure that this wildlife continues to exist in the
Kinabatangan,” said Dr Ancrenaz.
    The paper
also shows a study that reassessed orang-utan populations in Borneo and now
finds that an estimated 75 percent of orang-utans in Kalimantan
occur outside protected areas.
    The Sabah
Wildlife Department had in 2004 with HUTAN published a paper in the scientific
journal, PLoS Biology that showed that 60 percent of orang-utans in Sabah live outside protected areas. The study was funded
by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida).
    It was a
landmark paper for the world of orang-utan conservation as up to that point
scientists in other areas of Borneo and Sumatra
(the only two places in the world the orang-utan survive in the wild) were
mostly studying and working on orang-utan populations within primary forests
which were almost all protected areas, such as national parks.
    Hutan has
been working together with the Sabah Wildlife Department to develop and
implement solutions to conserve the orang-utan in Sabah, Malaysia
for the past 10 years.

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