Borneo's orangutan population plunged by 100 000 since 1999

2018-02-16 13:11
A wild orangutan is spotted in a tree during a rescue and release operation for orangutans trapped in a swath of jungle destroyed by forest fire in Sungai Mangkutub, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Dita Alangkara, AP, File)

A wild orangutan is spotted in a tree during a rescue and release operation for orangutans trapped in a swath of jungle destroyed by forest fire in Sungai Mangkutub, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Dita Alangkara, AP, File)

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Jakarta – The most comprehensive study of Borneo's orangutans estimates their numbers have plummeted by more than 100 000 since 1999, as the palm oil and paper industries shrink their jungle habitat and fatal conflicts with people increase.

The finding, to be published in the journal Current Biology, is in line with the International Union for Conservation of Nature's 2016 designation of Borneo's orangutans as critically endangered.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and other institutions said the most dramatic declines were found in areas where tropical forests were cut down and converted to plantations for palm oil, which is used in a vast array of consumer products, and for timber.

But significant population declines also occurred in selectively logged forests.

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