Orangutans Struggle to Survive Poaching in Borneo

Nearly 150,000  Bornean orangutans have been lost to deforestation and poaching in less than 20 years.

Male flanged Orangutan
Native to Borneo, the Bornean orangutan is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Bornean orangutan populations have decreased by nearly half as a result of unsustainable resource demand and conflict with humans.

A recent study working with researchers from Cardiff University has found that populations of the critically endangered Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) fell by nearly 150,000 between 1999 and 2015. Researchers are shocked by the figures, which prove that many past predictions were wrong.

Dr. Benoit Goossens, a reader of biosciences at Cardiff University took part in the research. He says, “The findings are staggering and it was hard for me to believe them. The rate of decline is much faster than what we thought, and this is worrying. If we cannot stop this decline, many more populations are going to disappear in the next few decades.”

Deforestation
Deforestation across Borneo is just one threat to these great apes. ©Rainforest Action Network.

While agricultural deforestation and logging were issues highlighted in the research, the hunting of these great apes for food and illegal wildlife trade have also been identified as significant factors in their decline.

“The major reason explaining this decline is the killing that happens in non-protected and protected areas. Forest conversion for agriculture explains less than 50% of the decline,” says Dr. Goossens.

If the impact of resource demand and hunting on these animals is not reduced, a further 43,500 could be lost in the next 35 years due to habitat loss alone. When hunting and poaching of orangutans are considered, this figure could be much higher.

Read more at InterCardiff

Orangutan infographic

( A version of this article also appears on Concentrated Science)

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