A ‘state of emergency’ has been declared over the survival of Indonesia’s orangutans. According to an rapid response assessment by UNEP, the situation of both the Bornean orangutan (Pongo abelii) and Sumatran orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is far more critical than previously suggested.

Their habitat is under constant attack from illegal logging, forest fires and mining… not to mention the ever-encroaching oil palms and the growing interest in their use as biofuels (see Dave Simpson’s blog on green fuels). The tropical forests of Indonesia and Malaysia are important for local livelihoods and also support a variety of other species (see Measuring out their lives in coffee spoons).

Dec_princesspan_chris_martin(Photo copyright Chris Martin, kindly supplied by the Orangutan Foundation)

The UNEP report estimates that without assistance a staggering 98% of the natural forests in Indonesia will be destroyed by 2022. It’s hard to imagine what will remain… if orangutans do still exist then they will do so in small pockets of land in barely viable populations.

For more information on the crisis facing orangutans please read the UNEP report The Last Stand of the Orangutan. State of Emergency: Illegal logging, fire and palm oil in Indonesia’s National Parks which was presented at the 24th Session of UNEP’s Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, 5-9 February 2007.

CAB Direct contains over 150 records on orangutans covering areas such as conservation and determining population densities.

For further information visit the Orangutan Foundation UK

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