Conservation Perspective: Connectivity and Coexistence Key to Orangutan Survival on Croplands

An orangutan using a fire hose bridge over a small river in Malaysia. Creating connectivity between agricultural lands and remaining forest patches is vital to preserving genetic resilience in species such as orangutans. Photo by Yosuke Otani and courtesy of Mongabay

by Linda Lombardi for Mongabay

Critically Endangered orangutans live in a part of the world where pristine forest is rapidly disappearing under human cultivation. From 1973–2010, Borneo lost 39 percent of its forests, and estimates are that another 37 percent of orangutan-suitable habitat will be converted to agricultural use there through 2025. Similarly, 60 percent of habitat suitable for Sumatran orangutans was lost between 1985 and 2007. If current trends continue, both species will have decreased in numbers by over 80 percent by 2025 — with habitat loss still being one of the greatest drivers of that decline.

So it is vital, if these great apes are to survive for decades to come, to understand how we can help them coexist alongside and among us today, especially within the agricultural landscape.

It was previously assumed that forest-dwelling orangutans wouldn’t be able to adapt to living in human-altered croplands. But more recently, researchers have conducted studies that have come to somewhat more encouraging conclusions.

This excerpt from an article appeared in and is courtesy of Mongabay and can be read in its entirety here.

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