KUCHING: The Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was this week listed as ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on its Red List of Threatened Species.
IUCN projected the orangutan population would decrease a further 22 per cent between 2010 and 2025.
The species decreased by more than 60 per cent between 1950 and 2010, which equates to a loss of more than 82 per cent (over 75 years) between the period of 1950 and 2025.
“Two major reasons that contributed to the sharp decline were habitat loss due to degradation and fragmentation of their habitat, and hunting. In addition, recurrent forest fires, especially in peat forests, had caused additional sharp declines about once every decade,” said the IUCN assessment.
The union said 39 per cent of forests in Borneo were lost from 1973 to 2010, representing a net loss of 98,730 square km of prime orangutan habitat.
Apart from habitat loss, the union mentioned that selective logging has degraded 56 per cent of orangutan habitat since 1973, while poaching contributed 12 per cent of the total projected population decrease between 1973 and 2025.
A recent interview survey conducted in Kalimantan, Indonesia revealed that several thousand orangutan individuals are killed every year for meat consumption, as a way to mitigate conflict apart from other reasons.
The study also suggested that 27 per cent of the people in Kalimantan did not know that orangutans are a protected species by law.
“The combined impacts of habitat loss, habitat degradation and illegal hunting equate to an 86 per cent population reduction between 1973 and 2025, which qualifies the species for listing as Critically Endangered.
Labels: Borneo, Kalimantan, Orang Utan