Decline of Orang Utan population due to forest exploitation
According to HUTAN Director, Marc Ancrenaz at the Species Action Plan for Orangutans, Borneo Elephants and Bornean subspecies of the Sumatran Rhinoceros workshop held recently, habitat loss, compaction, fragmentation, degradation, as well as complete disruption of the ecosystem and illegal killing and fires are the main threats to the orang-utans population.
Most of Sabah’s landmass was covered with tropical forests in a recent past. Yet today, only 50 percent of the land is still under some sort of forest cover, 15 percent of which are protected areas.
Natural forest are converted with commercial crops such as oil palm, industrial tree plantations (rubber, acacia) and other types of land uses such as for roads, human settlements, cattle or fish breeding.
Marc warned that further habitat loss will without any possible doubt lead to additional population crash.
The establishment of oil palm, other industrial tree plantations and expansion of infrastructure development have also led to the fragmentation of commercial forest reserves and other range forests for the orang-utans.
“Fragmentation prevents a proper gene-flow between different orang-utan subpopulations and results in inbreeding and deleterious genetic effects. Over time, human pressure and encroachment on the natural landscape and the excessive fragmentation of the remaining forests will make the last orang-utan populations more susceptible to local extinction,” he said.
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