Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Proboscis monkey declining

KINABATANGAN: Sabah’s proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) population is declining due to habitat loss as riparian forests are continually destroyed to plant oil palm and mangrove areas reclaimed for development.

“The proboscis monkey or Monyet Belanda in Malay as they are more commonly known, is declining in numbers because we have oil palm plantations planting all the way down to the river edge and in areas closer to towns we have seen their habitat lost as the mangrove areas they occupy are reclaimed and built upon,” stated a very concerned director of the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Dr Laurentius Ambu, in a press statement yesterday.

To make matters worse, only an estimated 15 percent are living within protected areas, which means preventing the conversion of non-protected areas is crucial.

“The oil palm industry does not have to plant all the way down to the river edge. They should leave the riparian forest with a buffer of preferably one kilometer for wildlife and also as a measure to protect our waterways as the water is also ultimately used for human consumption,” said the director.

Sabah, noted Laurentius, has given much for oil palm production and now it is time for the industry to give back by replanting riparian areas in particular.

“The State Government is committed to reforestation and we are working closely with community groups, NGOs and even private companies but the oil palm industry on the whole has been very slow to replant riparian areas although they talk a lot of it,” said Laurentius.

The director also vented his frustration at seeing areas that are unsuitable for oil palm plantation due to semi annual flooding being planted with the crop then destroyed by floods.

“These marginalised lands which you see in the Lower Kinabatangan, particularly those close or adjacent to Lots 3 and 6 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, should be replanted by the oil palm companies with native species of trees that survive this flooding instead of just being abandoned and the soil washing out into the river during flooding,” he said.

The SWD estimates that there are only 6,000 proboscis monkeys left, with five viable populations in Sabah.

“We have one population in the West Coast, one in the South and three in the East Coast, including the Lower Kinabatangan where oil palm has had a dramatic effect on a variety of Sabah wildlife, including this large nosed monkey,” shared Laurentius.

Monitoring carried out by a non-governmental organisation, HUTAN – Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme (KOCP) from 2008 to 2010 along a 15-kilometer stretch within the Lower Kinabatangan, has found that the area was losing 10 percent of the proboscis monkey population every year. A similar declining pattern has been observed in the vicinity of SWD’s Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Proboscis monkey declining

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