Bornean Orangutans Cling on to Survival. More than 100,000 have been killed since 1999, research has revealed.
Scientists carried out a 16-year survey on the island. They described the figures as “mind-boggling”.
Deforestation continues to be the main culprit. Along with logging, palm oil, mining and paper mills. The data was published in the Current Biology journal.
The research also revealed that animals were disappearing from areas that remained forested.
This implied large numbers of orangutans were simply being slaughtered.
A member of the team was Professor Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University, UK. He told BBC News: We didn’t expect the losses to be so large in standing forest. So these [studies] confirm that hunting is a major issue. When these animals come into conflict with people on the edge of a plantation, they are always on the losing end. People will kill them.
The research predicted deforestation alone could wipe out a further 45,000 orangutans over the next 35 years.
The cultivation of palm oil, found in a wide variety of food products, is a well-known cause of that habitat loss.
Dr Emma Keller from the conservation charity WWF told BBC News: consumers should put pressure on companies. They need to commit to a sustainable supply for this almost ubiquitous food product.
A team from Chester Zoo in the UK released the first pictures of the animals using man-made “forest canopy bridges”. They are constructed from tough cargo-strapping that the zoo uses to make swings and bridges in orangutan enclosures.
The bridges are effective. The animals swing from post to post. This helps them reach other areas of the habitation. It is safer and offers more protection. Prevents hunters tracking them down.
In the long-term the aim is to replant forests and make space for the great apes. The massive loss of orangutans has to end. Extinction is their future. But it can stop.
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