Happy News: New Population of Endangered Orangutans Found in Borneo

By Eliza Strickland | April 14, 2009 6:15 pm

orangutanIn the remote limestone mountains on the eastern edge of the island of Borneo, a large population of orangutans has been living quite happily, far from human settlements and untouched by the trouble that we humans can bring. Based on a rumor of the primate outpost researchers traveled for days through the mountains, and eventually discovered 219 orangutan nests in the forest, which they say could indicate that as many as 2,000 orangutans live there.

With only about 50,000 orangutans remaining in the wild, conservationists say it’s a rare piece of good news for the endangered species. “We rarely have something positive to report in the conservation world. Most of the stories are about declining population or animals dying. It’s all pretty negative,” said Erik Meijaard, a senior ecologist with the U.S.-based Nature Conservancy. “So to find a substantial population of potentially several hundred to several thousand animals is very exciting” [CNN].

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Bornean orangutan as endangered, pegging the species’ decline to habitat loss due to agriculture and logging. But this newfound group faces few threats from humans, because the region’s rocky landscape cannot be easily developed into plantations, Meijaard said [National Geographic News]. According to the Nature Conservancy, the Indonesian government is now considering turning the area into a protected park.

Local researcher Nardiyono says the newly discovered group was surprisingly large, and suggests that the area could be something of a orangutan refugee camp. The region of the rainforest where the orangutans were found escaped the massive fires that devastated almost all of the surrounding forests in the late 1990s. The blazes were set by plantation owners and small-scale farmers and exacerbated by the El Nino droughts. Nardiyono, who headed The Nature Conservancy’s weeklong survey in December, said “it could be the density is very high because after the fires, the orangutans all flocked to one small area” [AP].

Related Content:
80beats: Orangutans Are Threatened With Extinction as Habitat Shrinks
80beats: New Threat to Primates Worldwide: Being “Eaten Into Extinction” also includes a happy primate update: a newly discoverd population of lowland gorillas

Image: Nature Conservancy

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
  • http://redapes.org Richard Zimmerman

    Thank you for mentioning this truly wonderful orangutan news on the Discover blog!

    Orangutans are still critically endangered in the wild. To learn more about them and see how you can help protect them please visit the Orangutan Outreach website.

    Adopt an orangutan today!

    Richard Zimmerman
    Director, Orangutan Outreach
    http://redapes.org
    Reach out and save the orangutans!
    Facebook Cause: http://causes.com/redapes

  • Danielle

    It is true that we rarely get GOOD news about conservation efforts these days, so this is truly a blessing. This video has the quotes featured in this article, and others-http://www.newsy.com/videos/no_place_to_call_home/- about this great find. Hopefully we can do more to keep the orangutans in Borneo safe and prosperous!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »