Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saving Asia's Orangutans May Also Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Indonesia and Malaysia have stepped up efforts to protect Asia's great ape, the orangutan. Saving the endangered "man of the forest" may also help fight global warming.

Under a canopy of green in Malaysia's Sabah state, tourists watch as orangutans are fed.

Tourist attraction

The Sepilok rehabilitation center allows tourists to observe the orangutans – "the man of the forest" – from a viewing platform in the jungle.

"It is wonderful to see a wild animal so near. It is a big emotion," said Loula Patmora, who is from Italy. "It is very, very incredible to watch them. It's a big project, the rehabilitation center, because it is a very important thing to preserve this wild animal."

Center spokeswoman Jennifer Pitt says tourism spreads the word about efforts to protect these apes.

"The main message is just generally creating awareness for the plight of the orangutan," Pitt said. "They are incredibly endangered species and it's an issue which we all need to look at."

Veterinarian Jason Parker says most of the 200 young apes here were abandoned and rescued from palm oil plantations.

"The usual scenario is that a young orangutan – one to two years old – is separated from its mother for whatever reason – in floods, where the mother had been shot or sometimes the baby is literally found wandering around on its own," said Parker.

Forest conservation

The center helps the apes learn to live in the forest. When they are older, they are relocated to more isolated reserves, where they monitored to ensure they adjust to their new surroundings.

Orangutans are native to Borneo, which is divided among Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and on Indonesia's Sumatra island. The apes can weigh over 100 kilograms, and they live in the jungles, climbing from tree to tree to find food.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Saving Asia's Orangutans May Also Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

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