Borneo Orangutan Conservation

The destruction of tropical rainforests, particularly the typical lowland forest in Borneo and Sumatra, is the main reason why orangutans are in danger of extinction.
Borneo Orangutan Conservation

The Borneo Orangutan has been declared in potential danger of extinction, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This means that conservation efforts over the past 50 years have failed to prevent the extermination of this species.

The most recent data published by a team of 38 international institutions suggest that between 1999 and 2015, the total number of orangutans was reduced by more than 100,000 animals. That means the species is disappearing faster than experts predicted.

Regardless of the positive results of past conservation efforts, the only significant goal has not been achieved.

In other words, the conservation of the Borneo orangutan still depends on a stable or growing population. The sad reality is that there is very little that can be done to change the decline of this species.

Main causes of extinction of the Borneo orangutan

According to studies carried out by the IUCN, in 2010, only 59.6% of Borneo’s forests were suitable for orangutans.

Although much of this territory is technically protected by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, threats still exist.

This is largely due to human activity. First, intense illegal logging and conversion of forests into extensive oil palm plantations are among the harmful activities.

In addition, mining and logging some forests for road construction is also problematic.

Borneo Orangutan with cub

In addition, the habitat is also harmed by large-scale fires, facilitated by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Even the illegal trade in animals influences the decline of populations of this species. Finally, orangutans are also hunted for their meat by some indigenous peoples.

Alarming Estimates

At one point, the populations of the Borneo orangutan numbered hundreds of thousands of individuals. According to current estimates, the total number has decreased by 50%. The most recent and accurate numbers can be found on the IUCN website.

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species shows that around 14.6 thousand Sumatran orangutans remain at large. The Borneo Orangutan, on the other hand, has an estimated population of around 104,700 individuals.

The substantial loss of habitat on both islands suggests that the current numbers are actually below the IUCN Red List numbers.

Approximately between two and three thousand Borneo orangutans are killed each year in the last four decades alone.

An adaptable species: the conservation of the Borneo orangutan

Orangutans, in general, have been described as a highly sensitive species that can only survive under the original ecological conditions.

However, the more researchers learn about this species, the more they discover that these animals are able to adapt to new challenges.

The Borneo Orangutan.

For example, the Borneo Orangutan has been seen to walk on the ground more often than previously thought. They can also feed on plants that are not part of their natural diet, such as acacia or palm oil.

These behaviors can allow them to survive in fragmented landscapes. Even in much smaller forest places than was thought possible. However, they cannot cope with the current high mortality rate.

The Borneo Orangutan is a very slow-breeding species. Females only reproduce once every six or eight years.

This is the longest reproduction interval of any terrestrial mammal, so population recovery is very negligible.

Expected reduction: the conservation of the Borneo orangutan

There are protected populations in parts of Malaysia’s Borneo. Also, there are some bigger national parks in Borneo.

This may make it seem unlikely that the Borneo orangutan will go extinct in the near future. Even so, there is an urgent need to prevent further deaths.

Today, around 10,000 orangutans inhabit areas destined for the development of oil palms, which are still covered by forests.

Some situations need attention, such as hunting and killing animals in situations of conflict between natives. And, above all, collecting puppies as pets should be addressed in the media.

Thus, community conflict resolution and law enforcement would be facilitated. In terms of conservation, it is essential to develop appropriate strategies that truly address the current population decline.

In addition, more research needs to be done on why people kill orangutans.

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