April 14, 2009
There are only 50,000 or 60,000 orangutans left in the world. They were once widespread in Asian tropical forests, but they are now found only on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo. And there, the shaggy primates’ forest homes are being lost to deforestation, as people cut down the trees and replace them with oil palm farms.
Some rare good news, though, recently came from a group of Nature Conservancy ecologists who had surveyed a near-inaccessible part of Borneo’s East Kalimantan Province back in December: They found 219 orangutan nests, which translates to at least a few hundred orangutans and perhaps as many as 2,000.
“That we are still finding new populations indicates that we still have a chance to save this animal,” said Paul Hartman, who heads the US-funded Orangutan Conservation Service Programme, adding it was not all “gloom and doom”.
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