Indonesia: WWF Indonesia Calls for More Intensive Conservation Efforts to Save Borneo's Orangutans

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 14 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently updated the status of Borneo's orangutans to "critically endangered." Now the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia has called on the government to strengthen its orangutan conservation efforts.

“This is a reminder for us that the protection and conservation of the Bornean orangutans are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the environment,” said WWF Indonesia conservation director, Arnold Sitompul, in a statement on Thursday (14/07).

According to Arnold, orangutan conservation programs in Indonesian and Malaysia indicate that the population of the species in logging areas can be safeguarded using sustainable methods.

By adopting this approach in larger areas, orangutans will stand a better chance of escaping extinction. Strong partnerships between local governments, conservationists, researchers and business sector players are paramount to make sure the methods work.

Significant progress in conservation efforts has been seen in many protected areas in Indonesia and Malaysia, including Danau Sentarum, Betung Kerihun and Sebangau National Parks in Kalimantan; Danum Valley, Imbak Canyon, Maliau Basin Conservation Areas and Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia; and Sedilu, Batang Ai, Mount Lesung, Ulu Sebuyau National Parks and Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Reserve in Sarawak, Malaysia.

WWF Malaysia Executive Director and CEO Dionysius Sharma believes orangutan conservation strategies must include population monitoring and advocacy so more of their habitats can be developed into protected areas like the ones in Sabah.

“We are currently working with the Sabah Forestry Department to restore degraded orangutan habitats such as the one in the Bukit Piton Conservation Area,” Sharma said.

Since 2008, WWF Malaysia has restored over 2,000 hectares of orangutan habitats in Bukit Piton and said that orangutans started to see real benefits from the restoration only three years after new trees were planted at the area.

Orangutans play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem as they spread plant seeds in the wild and allow sunlight to enter dense tropical forests by making nests.

Nevertheless, deforestation, illegal logging and hunting continue to threaten the survival of orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra.

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