Friday, July 15, 2016

Strong action needed as Bornean Orangutan critically endangered

KOTA KINABALU: After decades of dramatic decline, the Bornean Orangutan was listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN) last week, highlighting the need for urgent action to save the species, which has been pushed to the brink by habitat destruction and degradation, and poaching in both Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo.

In the Indonesian part of Borneo, orangutans live primarily outside designated protected areas and non-sustainable timber practices, mining concessions and large-scale plantation have resulted in their habitat becoming critically fragmented.

Repeated episodes of forest fires in the region have further contributed to a decrease in forest cover in recent years which has, in turn, led to a growing threat from hunting as incidents of human-orangutan conflict increase due to depleting habitats, WWF Malaysia said in a statement yesterday.

To safeguard the species and stabilise orangutan populations in light of these challenges, conservation efforts must be strengthened to expand well protected and sustainably managed areas.

Arnold Sitompul, WWF-Indonesia Conservation director said: “The IUCN listing is an alarm call for all of us.

“The protection and restoration of the remaining Bornean Orangutan habitat is a must.

“Connectivity among orangutan habitat should also be ensured to maintain viability of each population.

“Our conservation programme shows orangutan population can be sustained in the logging concession area when it is managed in a sustainable way.

“Should we apply this approach in larger landscapes, we can potentially increase our opportunity to save the species from extinction.”

WWF’s years of conservation work in Indonesia and Malaysia has shown that efforts to ensure viable populations of the Bornean Orangutan can be successfully achieved by building a strong partnership among stakeholders including government agencies, scientists, NGOs and the private sector.

Significant progress has been made to safeguard orangutan populations in some protected areas and forest management areas – such as Danum Valley-Imbak Canyon-Maliau Basin Conservation Areas, Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary, Batang Ai National Park, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ulu Sebuyau-Sedilu-Gunung Lesong National Parks in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the National Parks of Danau Sentarum, Betung-Kerihun and Sebangau in Kalimantan.