Saturday, October 29, 2011

Teaching Orang Utan The Ropes To Evade Isolation

KINABATANGAN -- Wild orang utan in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in Sabah are being taught the ropes, literally, to evade isolation owing to the logging of the tall trees which have served as their natural bridges across small rivers and large drains.

Rope bridges built by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), in collaboration with French grassroots non-profit organisation HUTAN and the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Project (KOCP), are now enabling the orang utan to get cross these waterways.

HUTAN-KOCP co-director Dr Marc Ancrenaz said oil palm companies are being asked to help by not planting oil palm all the way down to the river but to set aside at least 500 metres along the banks as wildlife corridors.

"In May 2010, at the conclusion of the State Action Plan workshop, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun stated that he would like to see plantations, particularly those located in the Kinabatangan, to set aside at least 500 metres along riverbanks as wildlife corridors," Ancrenaz said in a statement here today.

With support from various partners, such as Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Borneo Conservation Trust, Shining Hope Foundation and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), more rope bridges with different designs have been built over the years, including by using old fire hoses from Japan.

"This was to see if different designs would be used by the orang utan, and what we found is they seem to prefer to use the simple two-line rope bridges," said Ancrenaz, who has been working on wildlife issues in Sabah from 1998.

During a visit to Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom, Ancrenaz found that rope bridges used at the zoo's orang utan enclosure were of much lighter material and yet able to withstand ultraviolet rays.

"Our partners from Chester Zoo have come to Sabah, bringing with them these rope material so that we can pull down the old bridges and put up new bridges along the sites we know where the orang utan are using the rope bridges, as well as at new identified areas," he said.

With assistance from Ropeskills Rigging Sdn Bhd (RRSB), a team of professional tree climbers based in Sabah, the new rope bridges are being built and the old bridges pulled down or repaired.

In all, seven rope bridges have been put up and/or repaired with the collaboration of the SWD, RRSB, Chester Zoo, DGFC, HUTAN-KOCP and Barefoot Sukau Lodge.

Continue reading at: Teaching Orang Utan The Ropes To Evade Isolation

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