Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Malua Biobank lowland rainforests important for orangutans in Sabah

Malua Biobank in Sabah supports the highest density of a sub-species of the orangutan family when compared to other parts of the world.

KOTA KINABALU: Ground and aerial surveys of 34,000 hectares of lowland rainforest known as the Malua Biobank in Sabah has revealed the area to be one of the most important refuges for the orangutan in Borneo.

Sabah Forestry Department’s Malua Wildlife unit leader, Hadrin Lias, who led the surveys, said the population of orangutan was increasing with the current conservation activities in Malua Biobank.

Logging in Malua ceased in 2007 and since then the habitat for orangutan has remained undisturbed and the area is regularly patrolled.

Dr Marc Ancrenaz, an international expert on orangutan, assisted and trained the Malua Wildlife Unit to undertake the surveys and believes that the Malua Biobank supports the highest density of this sub-species (Pongo pygmaeus morio) of orangutan anywhere in the world.

“Malua Biobank is critically important for the survival of this subspecies, though all three sub-species of orangutan in Borneo are endangered due to extensive habitat loss,” Ancrenaz said.

“For orangutan to survive in Borneo, it is vitally important to preserve large contiguous blocks of lowland rainforest such as Malua Biobank and the nearby Danum Valley Conservation Area,” he added..

He said the orangutan density was found to be particularly high in eastern Malua.

The individuals in this part of the reserve are physically and genetically isolated from the rest of the population due to the presence of the Malua River which cuts across the reserve and which orangutans are unable to cross.

In an effort to connect populations, the second of two suspended orangutan bridges across the Malua River has been constructed and remote cameras will be installed to record any wildlife movements across the bridges.

The new orangutan bridge consists of a lattice of chains that provides the orangutan hand and footholds to cross the river, mimicking the function of overhanging tree branches in areas where large trees are now absent.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Malua Biobank lowland rainforests important for orangutans in Sabah

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