Des Moines, Iowa July 3, 2008 Endangered wild orangutan (Pongo spp.) populations are declining more sharply in Sumatra and Borneo than previously estimated, according to new findings published this month by Great Ape Trust of Iowa scientist Dr. Serge Wich and other orangutan conservation experts in Oryx The International Journal of Conservation.
Conservation action essential to survival of orangutans, found only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, must be region-specific to address the different ecological threats to each species, said Wich and his co-authors, a pre-eminent group of scientists, conservationists, and representatives of governmental and non-governmental groups. They convened in Jakarta, Indonesia, in January 2004 to address the threats to orangutan survival and develop new assessment models to guide conservation planning.
New orangutan population estimates revealed in the July issue of Oryx reflect those improvements in assessment methodology including standardized data collection, island-wide surveys, and better sharing of data among stakeholders rather than dramatic changes in the number of surviving orangutans.
The experts' revised estimates put the number of Sumatran orangutans (P. abelii) around 6,600 in 2004. This is lower than previous estimates of 7,501 as a result of new findings that indicate that a large area in Aceh that was previously thought to contain orangutans actually does not. Since forest loss in Aceh has been relatively low from 2004 to 2008, the 2004 estimate is probably not much higher than the actual number in 2008. The 2004 estimate of about 54,000 Bornean orangutans (P. pygmaeus) is probably also higher than the actual number today as there has been a 10 percent orangutan habitat loss in the Indonesian part of Borneo during that period.
"It is clear that the Sumatran orangutan is in rapid decline and unless extraordinary efforts are made soon, it could bec
|Contact: Al Setka|
Great Ape Trust of Iowa