KOTA KINABALU: Today the idea that orang-utans once were found throughout Sabah from up north in Kudat to the highlands of Keningau and on the plains of Penampang sounds unbelievable for most of us.
However, this was the reality a few decades ago, and today the loss of these populations should drive home the message to all in Sabah that we have decimated 80 per cent of all our orang-utans over the span of three generations of this majestic species.
“This loss of 40,000 to 60,000 of Bornean Orang-utans over the last 75 years across the island of Borneo has had a huge impact to the species as a whole,” said Dr. Marc Ancrenaz, Scientific Director of HUTAN – Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme in a statement, yesterday.
Ancrenaz was the lead author of the newly updated status produced for the Bornean Orang-utan by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, which now reclassifies this species as Critically Endangered. This means that the species is one step closer to being listed as Extinct in the Wild.
“Sadly, we humans are responsible for the dramatic decrease of the orang-utan populations in Borneo. Orang-utans have long birth intervals, which means the populations is not able to sustain any hunting pressure which has led to the loss of staggering 80 per cent of this iconic species,” explained Ancrenaz.
The main cause of the drastic demise of 40,000 to 60,000 Bornean Orang-utans over the last 75 years is hunting for bush meat or due to conflict with humans when clearing forest for agriculture activities such as planting of oil palm.
Today in Sabah, the State Government aims to have 50 per cent of all land area remaining under permanent forest cover, with 30 per cent of that being designated as fully protected under various legislations.
In 2004, when the Sabah Wildlife Department together with HUTAN – KOCP conducted a State wide survey of orang-utans, only 40 per cent of the orang-utan habitat was within protected areas.
Today this figure has increased to 85 per cent, with most of these coming under areas designated as “Class I Protection Forest Reserve” by the Sabah Forestry Department.
Labels: Kinabatangan, Orang Utan, Sabah Wildlife