More Than 100,000 Bornean Orangutans Killed In 16 Years, Study Finds

Posted: Feb 18 2018, 12:25pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 18 2018, 12:29pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

More Than 100,000 Bornean Orangutans Killed in 16 Years, Study Finds
Credit: Marc Ancrenaz

The new study reveals that about half of the orangutans found on Borneo disappeared between 1999 and 2015

A comprehensive survey reveals the dire state of orangutan’s population on the island of Borneo.

Researchers have found that more than 100,000 Bornean orangutans have been killed since 1999. The number represent a staggering 50 percent drop in orangutan population.

The decline is mainly attributed to hunting, deforestation and associated habitat loss. If orangutan population continues to decrease at this alarming rate, the species will likely become extinct in next few decades.

“The decline in population density was most in areas that were deforested or transformed for industrial agriculture, as orangutans struggle to live outside forest areas,” said Maria Voigt of the Max Planck Institute in Germany. “Worryingly, however, the largest number of orangutans were lost from areas that remained forested during the study period. This implies a large role of killing."

Orangutans are only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Both Borneo and Sumatra species are now classified as Critically Endangered due to sharp decline in population over the years. The biggest threats to orangutans are habitat loss, hunting and other direct conflicts between orangutans and people.

To determine the decline in orangutan population over time, researchers analyzed data from 38 international institutions. All the data was based on field surveys conducted from 1999 to 2015.

The survey data helped researchers to determine the distribution of the species in Borneo and to track changes in their population. Based on an average 23 nests for every kilometer, researchers estimated a loss of 148,500 Bornean orangutans between 1999 and 2015. They also predict that over 45,000 more orangutans will be lost in the next 35 years.

The findings are a wake-up call for the community involved in orangutan conservation and urge a rethink of strategies to protect this species.

“Orangutans are flexible and can survive to some extent in a mosaic of forests, plantations, and logged forest, but only when they are not killed," said co researcher Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University. "So, in addition to protection of forests, we need to focus on addressing the underlying causes of orangutan killing. The latter requires public awareness and education, more effective law enforcement, and also more studies as to why people kill orangutans in the first place."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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