Indonesia: 750 orang-utans 'killed in a year'

Hunting and shrinking habitat hit orang-utan population hard
New Zealand Herald 14 Nov 11;

Villagers living on the Indonesian side of Borneo killed at least 750 endangered orang-utans over a year-long period, some to protect crops from being raided and others for their meat, a survey shows.

Such practices, never before quantified, are now believed to pose a more serious threat to the existence of the red apes than previously thought, says Erik Meijaard, the main author of the report that appeared in the journal PLoSOne.

Indonesia, home to 90 per cent of the orang-utans left in the wild, was blanketed with plush rain forests less than 50 years ago, but half those trees have been cleared in the rush to supply the world with timber, pulp, paper and more recently, palm oil.

As a result, most of the remaining 50,000 to 60,000 apes live in scattered, degraded forests, putting them in frequent, and often deadly, conflict with humans.

"But our surveys also indicate that killing of orang-utans is happening deep inside forested areas, where orang-utans are hunted just like any other species," Meijaard said.

"This may be an uncomfortable truth, but not one that we can any longer ignore."

The Nature Conservancy and 19 other private organisations, including the WWF and the Association of Indonesian Primate Experts and Observers, carried out the survey to get a better understanding of orang-utan killings and their underlying causes.

They interviewed 6983 people in 687 villages in three provinces of Kalimantan on the Indonesian side of Borneo between April 2008 and September 2009. Neil Makinuddin, programme manager of The Nature Conservancy, said they were surprised how many respondents reported killing and then eating orang-utans - just over half.

- AP

750 orang-utans 'killed in a year'
(UKPA) Press Association Google News 14 Nov 11;

At least 750 endangered orang-utans have been killed by villagers on the Indonesian side of Borneo over a year-long period, according to a new survey.

Some were killed in order to protect farmers' crops, while others were killed for their meat, researchers found.

Erik Meijaard, main author of the report that appeared in the journal PLoS One, said he believes the killings pose a more serious threat to the apes' survival than previously thought.

Indonesia is home to 90% of the 50,000-60,000 orang-utans left in the wild.

But as forests are being cleared to make way for pulp, paper and palm oil plantations, the apes are coming into conflict with humans.

The Nature Conservancy and other organisations interviewed nearly 7,000 people in 687 villages to try to better understand the underlying causes for killing orang-utans.