Monday, July 11, 2016

Borneo's Great Ape Endangered

baby orangs rescued from a trafficker, credit J. Hanafiah
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared the Borneo orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is critically endangered with extinction in the wild.  The listing is an admission that efforts to conserve the animal's remaining rain forest habitat on the Indonesian island have failed.  The organization reports that human hunting and forest destruction are the main drivers of extinction.

In 2010 only about sixty percent of the orangutan's forest home was protected.  Continued logging and clearances have disrupted orangutan populations and lifestyle to the point that endangers their health and reproductive ability.  These remnant populations surviving in isolated patches of forest are on a downward trajectory and there is little conservationists can do to help them.  Coupled with the lowest reproductive rate in the primate family--females produce only once every six to eight years--the species' future on Borneo is grim.  The IUCN noted that a projected 86% reduction in population between 1973 and 2025 qualifies the orangutan for listing. Conservationists looking on the bright side, say all is not lost for the orangutan in the wild.  The primates adapt to degraded forests better than expected, and new commitments from the Indonesian government and corporations to protect orangutans and their habitat from development give hope for the future.