KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s critically endangered orang utan population has stabilised with the ongoing measures taken by the state government to ensure that 30% of the land remain under fully protected forest reserves.
There are were indications the number of orang utan habitats within the fully protected forest reserves had increased to 85%, said Hutan-Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme (KOCP) scientific director Dr Marc Ancrenaz.
In 2004, when the Sabah Wildlife Department together with Hutan - KOCP conducted a statewide survey of orang utans, only 40% of the orang utan habitat was within protected areas.
Today, this figure has increased to 85%, with most of these coming under areas designated as “Class I Protection Forest Reserve” by the Sabah Forestry Department, he said.
However, he stressed that Sabah was still losing orang utans due to fragmentation and isolation of populations as clearing of non-protected forest for agriculture continue to happen. Declines in populations have also been amplified due to hunting.
Orang utans, he said, were once found throughout Sabah from northern Kudat to the highlands of Keningau and on the plains of Penampang.
He added some 40,000 to 60,000 of Bornean orang utans were lost over the last 75 years across the island of Borneo and this has had a huge impact to the species as a whole.