Conservation Commentary: Erik Meijaard on How to Stop the Rot in Orangutan Protection

photo courtesy of ANTARA FOTO/Jessica Helena Wuysang/foc/15 and the Jakarta Globe
photo courtesy of ANTARA FOTO/Jessica Helena Wuysang/foc/15 and the Jakarta Globe

With some 10,000 orangutans having died a premature death in the past five years, there clearly has been collective failure by governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement effective conservation management for these species.

Sumatran orangutans have been Critically Endangered for a while, indicating severe population declines in the recent past and projecting similar declines in the near future.

Bornean orangutans were slightly better off, so we thought. But based on the first robust population trend analysis, recently conducted for Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, indicating a 25 percent decline in 10 years, this species is also likely to be listed as Critically Endangered.

The facts speak for themselves. Based on extensive community interviews, some 1,500-2,200 orangutans are killed in Kalimantan annually. We further estimate that we are losing some 3,000-6,000 square kilometers of habitat every year on Borneo, and this similarly translates in the loss of several thousand animals. These dead orangutans are real, not the fiction of some science crackpots!

The Indonesian government officially concurs with the above findings and thus recognizes that there has been little if any progress on its own goal of stabilizing all wild orangutan populations by 2017.

This excerpt from an opinion piece appeared in and is courtesy of the Jakarta Globe and can be read in its entirety here.

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