Malaysia: Orangutans habitat disappearing -- Malaysian Primatological Society

R. SEKARAN The Star 16 Dec 15;

GEORGE TOWN: The orangutan is facing a serious threat of extinction if nothing is done to safeguard their habitat.

Malaysian Primatological Society (MPS) president Dr Mashhor Mansor said the primates, which were an endangered species, might go extinct by 2020 due to forest fires and poachers.

“It defies logic to see efforts being done to counter the threat to pandas but none for the orangutan population, which should be our responsibility,” he said during the launch of the Post-Haze Orangutan Conservation Fund 2015 at Universiti Sains Malaysia yesterday.

Conservation efforts, Dr Mashhor said, had always come from Europe for orangutans since the 1990s, which was a shame as it was an Asian problem.

“We have thousand of hectares of forest destroyed by private developers, which are the natural habitat of the orangutans, but no funding was forthcoming to relocate them to safer areas,” he said.

The MPS is a non-governmental organisation that focuses on conservation efforts for primates, especially in academics, research and management in Malaysia.

Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) chief executive officer Dr Jamartin Sihite said forest fires and the haze had compounded to the rapid decline in the orangutans’ survival, which numbered about 30,000 today compared to 60,000 in 2004.

“We need RM25.95mil a year to relocate the orangutans during the haze, where more than 500,000ha of forest was destroyed in Kalimantan,” said Dr Jamartin.

He said BOSF had to bring more than 700 orangutans from their habitat this year and relocate them to temporary shelters.

“The air pollution index reached more than 350 and some of the orangutans that came to the centre suffered respiratory infection,” he added.

Both he and Dr Mashhor were hopeful that the post-haze conservation fund would receive support from the public, private companies and individuals in the Asian region.

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