Anthropology.net blogger German Dziebel sent me this link about the dim future of orangutans in Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. Afarensis has also covered this news. The results of a new survey of orangutan populations have been published in the journal Oryx. I don’t have access to the early advance view of the paper, but one of the authors of the paper, Serge Wich, discussed his results to the Associated Press,
“Orangutan population on Indonesia’s Sumatra island dropped almost 14 percent since 2004…. On Borneo island, which is shared by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, have fallen by 10 percent…
The number of orangutans on Sumatra has fallen from 7,500 to 6,600 while the number on Borneo has fallen from 54,000 to around 49,600.”
Despite the active conservation initiatives to help save these apes, the numbers are dropping at alarming rates. Because of that, the orangutan maybe the first extant great ape to go extinct. Much of the problem is due to the aggressive deforestation efforts by palm oil producers, who tear down forests to plant palm trees and make biofuel. This illustration to the right documents the deforrestation of Borneo in the past and projects the impact in the future.
I’ve covered this topic before, and summarized the history Primatology.net’s blogging on orangutan conservation.