AboutZoos, Since 2008


Spe­cial bridges used to de-​fragment Orang utan habi­tat in Borneo

pub­lished 21 Decem­ber 2011 | mod­i­fied 21 April 2012

As part of the Kin­abatan­gan Orang-​utan Con­ser­va­tion Project con­struc­tion of spe­cial “orang utan bridges”, using the same mate­ri­als as in Chester Zoo, is sched­uled this year in Malaysian Bor­neo. A team from Chester Zoo will sup­port con­ser­va­tion­ists in this project. The “bridges” are designed to allow the pri­mates to move around in an area that has become frag­mented by deforestation.

The Chester Zoo team is involved because since 2007 the Zoo runs the Realm of the Red Ape Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gramme, a field pro­gramme which belongs to its con­ser­va­tion efforts. There­fore Marc Ancre­naz, co-​founder of the Kin­abatan­gan Orang utan Con­ser­va­tion Project, has a good rela­tion­ship with the Zoo’s con­ser­va­tion­ists. When he vis­ited Chester Zoo he noticed the tough poly­ester web­bing mate­r­ial they use for the Orang utan enclo­sure. Accord­ing to Nick Davis from Chester Zoo they are lim­ited in the mate­ri­als they can use for Orang utans, because they destroy every­thing. The mate­r­ial they use is “Orang-​proof” and it does not rot. So, it has been decided that this mate­r­ial will be incor­po­rated in the bridges that will be built in Bor­neo later this year.

In the Kin­abatan­gan project the bridge build­ing activ­i­ties started about five years ago when a study showed that the local Orang utan pop­u­la­tion had been frag­mented into 20 sub-​populations iso­lated from each other by vast tracts of palm oil plan­ta­tions, roads, vil­lages, and rivers. By nature the Orang utans can­not swim, like the other great apes and humans but unlike many other pri­mate species. So, with a dis­rupted tree canopy due to log­ging activ­i­ties and impas­si­ble rivers (and roads), the Orang utans can’t move around. The bridges should de-​fragment the Orang’s habi­tat and enable them to “spread their wings”.

(Source: BBC Nature, 22.08.2011)

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