According to a new assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Bornean orangutans are now ‘critically endangered.’ Habitat destruction, illegal logging, and hunting are all to blame for the dwindling orangutan numbers. But Andrew Marshall, one of the assessment authors, said the fight isn’t over yet.
Although many of the forests where Bornean orangutans reside are protected by the Brunei, Indonesian, and Malaysian governments, burning and illegal logging still threatens the orangutan’s homes. Many forest patches that remain are either isolated or degraded, so what land the orangutans do have left may not contain enough resources to support them.
Related: Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies
To make matters worse, orangutans don’t reproduce very often. In fact, they have the “longest birth interval of any land mammal.” Females reproduce every six to eight years, and only have about three babies during their lives, making it that much more difficult for orangutan populations to rebound.
According to the IUCN assessment, “The combined impacts of habitat loss, habitat degradation, and illegal hunting equate to an 86 percent population reduction between 1973 and 2025 which qualifies the species for listing as Critically Endangered.”
But hope isn’t lost yet. Marshall told Mongabay, “Although I think things will likely get worse before they get better, it’s not too late for orangutans.” He said some recent studies indicate orangutans adapt better to degraded habitats than we used to think.
Also, Indonesian president Joko Widodo recently said he’d work to limit the growth of the palm oil industry, which has long been criticized for destroying animal homes. If the Indonesian government and other governments can stick to their word and protect orangutan habitats, the species has a better chance at recovery.
Via The Guardian
Images via Wikimedia Commons and Joan Campderrós-i-Canas on Flickr