Commentary: New Approaches Needed to Save Orangutans in Indonesia

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orangutan photo courtesy of Huff Post Green

by Robert Hii for Huff Post Green

It was disheartening to read the headlines from this news report that said Kansas City and elsewhere, zoos brace against the threat of species extinction. It’s as if the orangutans are doomed to an existence merely in zoos located thousands of miles from their natural habitats.

We can’t let this happen. Their population levels have plummeted for sure in the past two decades as timber, palm oil and mining ripped apart their habitats in Malaysia and Indonesia where these animals are found. If the situation in both countries remained in “business-as-usual” mode where forests were removed with zero regard for what lived in them, then yes, the orangutans are doomed but these are different times and we have to take new approaches to ensure their survival outside of zoos…

Of the three subspecies of orangutans on Borneo island the Pongo pygmaeus morio in Sabah state and Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii in Sarawak, Malaysia both survive in a relatively stable environment. The two thousand plus orangutans in Sarawak are reported to be in new safer environs. This is due mostly to the new Chief Minister of the state, Adenan Satem, who has stunned the public in wanting to protect the remaining natural environment in Sarawak. Declaring recently in London, England that the state has enough palm oil and timber plantations, his government played a key role in freezing three hundred and seventy bank accounts belonging to companies suspected as being involved in illegal logging in the state. All of this bodes well for orangutans in Sarawak and I hope the CM will heed the advice of conservation groups that have called for the protection of its remaining forests.

This excerpt from a commentary piece appeared in and is courtesy of Huff Post Green and can be read in its entirety here.

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