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Orangutan populations still under threat, but stable says WWF

Orangutan populations still under threat, but stable says WWF

Akmal Hakim

Orangutan numbers in Sabah are dwindling says global wildlife watchdog, WWF.

Image Credit: Know Your Meme)

But it’s not all bad news…

According to the organization, while their numbers have declined in areas of forest patches within the state’s palm oil plantations, the overall population of the species has remained rather stable during the last 15 years.

Based on its latest extensive survey, the organization found that orangutan populations living near plantations have gone down by 30%, where at least 650 of them were lost between 2002 and 2017.

But WWF also notes that there were still some 11,000 of these majestic mammals still roaming the jungles of Sabah.

(Image Credit: Meme Centre)

Orangutans are only found in the jungles of Borneo and Sumatera. (that’s Malaysia and Indonesia btw…) where three different species inhabit different parts of the forest, looking and behaving quite differently too…

There’s the Bornean orangutan, who likes to come down from the trees and move around on the ground.

(Image Credit: The Conservation)

Their cousins, the Sumatran orangutans tend to have longer facial hair.

(Image Credit: About Animals)

And a more recently discovered species was found in Indonesia in 2017, where there are only some 800 of em’ around.

(Image Credit: WWF)

All of em’ are endangered and threatened by habitat loss.

Malaysia is the world’s second-largest grower of palm oil following neighbouring Indonesia, with the product being our No.1 agricultural export.

And experts do agree that the palm oil industry has caused widespread deforestation across Southeast Asia.

via GIPHY

So it seems like a solution is easy, right? If we want to keep these creatures around we’d need to get rid of all the palm oil plantations…

Well, technically it’s not that simple…

(Image Credit: tk tan via Pixabay)

According to WWF scientists, themonoculture nature of oil palm plantations – monoculture means to plant only a single crop in a given area – is bad for the forest and its inhabitants, as palm trees don’t really provide the same environment that can support these creatures… 

But, coincidentally, the forest patches within the plantation landscapes allow for orangutans to travel between different areas. Acting as a sort of highway for them to get around the jungle and is attributed as a key factor in their survival in Sabah.

Orangutan populations in forest reserves surveyed between 2014 and 2017
(Image Credit:
POLOS ONE)

Just recently Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok criticized an international school for supposedly spreading anti-palm oil propaganda while stressing that Malaysia is currently making efforts towards a more sustainable palm oil industry.

(Image Credit: Funny Junk)

So, what will this mean for these shy-majestic creatures? Well, with a stable population, it will be easier for us to restore their numbers through conservation efforts.

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