Sumatran Orangutans – The last survey indicates that Sumatran orangutans’ population is increasing twice than thought.
As an outcome of a landmark survey, researchers have found that there are twice as many Sumatran orangutans alive than earlier thought. The research team has clarified that the critically endangered great ape number has become slightly better, but hasn’t reached the desired point yet.
Sumatran orangutans are the most vulnerable to loss of forest habitat, followed by the prohibited pet trade and poaching. Lands are set on fire to clear them for conversion to palm oil plantations, and such a practice has been continuously burning across Indonesia, destroying some of the left habitat of orangutans.
As per Wich and his colleagues’ estimations, there were nearly 14,600 living orangutans in the wild, in comparison to the 6,600 they had estimated in 2008.
Previous estimates indicated 80% fall in the population in the last 75 years and Wich mentioned that the latest findings won’t majorly alter that figure.
Wich said, “There has been so much forest loss in Sumatra during the past decades that the population will still have declined [about] that much, albeit a bit less”.
He mentioned that it was important to realize that the latest findings don’t mean the population was on rise. Rather, the latest survey has focused closely at places where it was earlier though no orangutans existed.
The researchers have surveyed areas in Sumatra 1,500m over sea level, whereas earlier surveys supposed that there were no orangutans that live above 900m. The survey also targeted the parts that had been logged previously and got surprised when found some orangutans repopulating the regions.
Ultimately, they investigated the areas further west, where the populations of orangutan were discovered only recently.
BCC News reported that, “The known current range is now 17,797 sq km (6,871 sq miles), roughly 2.56 times larger,” said a team led by Serge Wich, professor of primate biology at Liverpool John Moores University.
“Since 2004, Sumatran orangutan numbers have undoubtedly declined, and they continue to do so at an alarming rate because of ongoing deforestation and poaching/persecution,” they wrote in Science Advances.
DailyMail News report said, ‘Dr Wich cautions that a number of development projects planned in these areas could have a devastating effect on the population of orangutans.’
‘We will need to continue to work with the Indonesian government and other parties to ensure that this scenario will not happen,’ he said. ‘We would like to see appropriate environmental impact assessments conducted for all developmental planning that concerns forests in the orangutan range, so that disruption to their habitat may be avoided or reduced to a minimum.’
According to the Phys News, “It was very exciting to find out that there are more Sumatran orangutans than we thought, but this does not mean that we can be complacent,” says Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores University. “Numerous development projects are planned in the area that – if they are not stopped – could sharply reduce the number of orangutans over the coming years.”
“The Sumatran orangutans are the first ape taxon for which estimates of population size have changed considerably when taking a closer look and they are likely not the last one”, says project leader Hjalmar Kuehl of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). “Given the rapid development in field and analytical methods, we will likely see upwards or downwards corrections of the estimated population sizes for several of the other 12 ape taxa in the years to come. This will help us to better inform conservation policy and management and provide guidance for the improved protection of great apes.”