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THE SITUATION OF WILD ORANGUTANS Sumatra and neighbouring Malaysia are the world’s largest palm oil exporters. Full view


The publication of an important scientific report details the current situation of wild orangutans. How many populations exist?What are the dangers they are facing? How can we best protect the orangutans? 

The protection of the remaining orangutans in the wild is the number one focus of our Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme SOCP. Our chief research officer Matthew Nowak was part of a working group that conducted an assessment and strived to find practicable solutions. Their solutions have been published under the title «Orangutan Population and Habitat Viability Assessment».

The most important conclusions regarding the orangutan populations are:

  • Currently there are only 55 orangutan-populations left worldwide, all living on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
  • The sizes of the orangutan-populations vary significantly: there are populations from 10 up   to 10’450 individuals.
  • The 14290 orangutans on Sumatra are divided into 10 different populations.
  • The chance for the Sumatran orangutans to survive the next hundred years, under a constant threat situation, is relatively high for seven out of those 10 of these populations. The probability quantified at 75% at least.
  • Three of these populations are expected to become extinct within the next hundred years under a constant threat scenario.
  • It is expected that populations of at least 200 orangutans should be able to survive for the next 500 years.

The biggest dangers and the reason for the decline of the orangutans :

Measures that should be taken to protect the orangutans:

  • better and more sophisticated land-use planning
  • strict law enforcement
  • closure of illegal streets which fragment populations
  • moratorium on the development of palm oil plantations

The drafting of a new strategic action plan with a nation-wide scope is planned for 2017 – 2027. This plan is expected to include the above measures.

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