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201313Apr16:47

New pop­u­la­tion of Bornean orang­utans discovered

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 13 April 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014
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Orangutan bornean babyThe Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS) con­grat­u­lates the Gov­ern­ment of Sarawak for pro­tect­ing a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion of up to 200 of the world’s rarest Bornean orang­utans recently found by a team of con­ser­va­tion­ists in Sarawak, Malaysian Bor­neo.

The sub-​species
Pongo pyg­maeus pyg­maeus is listed as the most severely threat­ened orang­utan world­wide, and Endan­gered accord­ing the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species, with a total of between 3,0004,500 ani­mals, of which 2,000 live in Sarawak in Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak-​Entimau Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary.

The orang­utans were found in an area of about 14,000 hectares (140 sq km) in Ulu Sun­gai Menyang, close to Batang Ai National Park. Local Iban com­mu­ni­ties had been aware of the exis­tence of orang­utans in this area, but until recently no major research had been con­ducted in Ulu Sun­gai Menyang.

It is indeed won­der­ful to hear the Government’s ini­tia­tive towards pro­tect­ing these orang­utan and their habi­tat espe­cially when pre­lim­i­nary sci­en­tific data indi­cates the exis­tence of a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant population.
Melvin Gumal, Direc­tor of Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety, Malaysia Pro­gram »

Field sur­veys were con­ducted in Feb­ru­ary by staff from the Sarawak For­est Depart­ment, assisted by Sarawak Forestry Cor­po­ra­tion, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety and Bor­neo Adven­ture. The sur­veys cov­ered 248 kilo­me­tres (154 miles) of tran­sects in the hilly, undu­lat­ing ter­rain in cen­tral Bor­neo. Ground sur­veys were sup­ple­mented by data from aer­ial sur­veys so that 80 per­cent of the study area was cov­ered. A total of 995 orang­utan nests were found in the area. Fresh nests were found in all tran­sects as well as in the remote areas cov­ered by the aer­ial sur­veys indi­cat­ing recent use of the area by these rare orang­utans.

Upon con­fir­ma­tion that the area had a glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion of the rare sub-​species, the Gov­ern­ment of Sarawak offi­cially indi­cated the need to pro­tect this area in per­pe­tu­ity. It is already a High Con­ser­va­tion Value For­est, con­sid­ered to have an area of high bio­log­i­cal, cul­tural, eco­nomic and liveli­hood sig­nif­i­cance. The Sarawak Gov­ern­ment intends to hold a dia­logue with local com­mu­ni­ties and the other key stake­hold­ers to dis­cuss options and to involve them in any con­ser­va­tion effort in the area.

The four organ­i­sa­tions involved in the sur­vey will con­duct a follow-​up study in the area to for­mu­late strate­gic actions involv­ing all stake­hold­ers includ­ing the local com­mu­ni­ties.


(Source: WCS press release, 10.04.2013)

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