Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kinabatangan Orang Utan population now only 800

THE Orang Utan population in Sabah's key nature tourism spot - the Lower Kinabatangan - has declined by one third from 1,100 to only 800 over the last 10 years because forests are getting too small and compounded by fragmentation and isolation, said French primatologist, Dr Marc Ancrenaz.

Similarly, the population of Proboscis monkeys has also declined by 10 per cent over the last five years.

Dr Ancrenaz joined speakers in highlighting the "predicament" of these flagship species, including the low number Sumatran rhinos (Dr Junaidi Payne) and the conflict-prone pygmy elephants (Dr Benoit Goossens), underscoring the need to step up conservation actions without delay, especially on habitat restoration.

Dr Ancrenaz' s findings on the orang utan confirmed the long term declining trend cited in an opening address by the Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Dr Laurentius Ambu who said that the oranag utan population in Sabah had dropped by 50 per cent over the last half century.

His speech was read out by Dr Sen Nathan.

"The biggest problem we face today is forest fragmentation and isolation," noted Dr Ambu.

Asked what he meant by the forests getting too small, Dr Ancrenaz said although the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is 26,000ha in size plus an adjacent 15,000ha , "the problem is it is not one block of forest but split into eleven lots separated by drains, roads and plantations.

"So the orang utan population is not one single group but at least 20 different units," he said.

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