The Oil Palm

Malaysian efforts to protect orang-utan habitat

A scientific study on orang-utan distribution throughout Borneo has indicated that Malaysian authorities are pursuing an effective orang-utan conservation strategy.

Using data collected over two decades from Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan, the study provides an overview of the distribution of potential orang-utan habitats throughout Borneo.
The research highlights the efforts of Malaysian authorit ies in establishing and managing orang-utan habitats under their jurisdiction.
According to Dr Marc Ancrenaz, head of the orang-utan conservation NGO – HUTAN – and co-author of the published paper, “more than 60 percent of the orang-utan population is now protected in Sabah [one of two Malaysian states on the Island of Borneo]. This is a huge improvement for orang-utan conservation in the State compared to the early 2000′s when only 30% of the orang-utans in Sabah were living in protected forests.”
The study commended Malaysian conservation efforts, noting that “protected areas in Malaysia appear better managed with lower rates of deforestation and forest degradation rates, and fewer incidences of hunting than in Indonesia.”
Despite significant efforts such as this, the research suggests that more work is needed beyond the Malaysian boarder, as it is likely that the majority of the Island’s orang-utans reside outside the established network of protected forests.
The study also indicated that significant orang-utan populations may live in Malaysian timber and palm oil concessions. Scientific research suggests that such concessions can harbour orang-utan populations when plantations are well managed. In a recent media interview, Dr Ancrenaz commended Malaysian authorities for their management of concessions and forest resources.
The study noted that production areas in Malaysian Borneo did not harbour potential orang-utan habitat, indicating that Malaysian efforts to zone lands for industrial functions were taking into account orang-utan habitats and functioning as an effective conservation tool.