Monday, November 27, 2006

Borneo Orang-Utans

I remember reading this news in the local papers earlier in the month and I found it in the net again, just occured to me whether all the campaign and promotion to help save the orang-utans of Borneo has actually bore any fruit or are all of us merely watching the annihilation from the comfort of our personal computers and LCD TV screens. Read on if you haven't done so:
1000 orangutans perished this year in forest fires that raged across Borneo and Sumatra according to a conservationist interviewed by Reuters. Willie Smits, an ecologist at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in Indonesia, told Reuters that the fires forced hungry orangutans into agricultural areas where they were killed as pests. Orangutans are known for feeding on fruit of oil palm and other crops in fields adjacent to forest areas. "Orangutans are starving. They are sick and many of those we are treating were injured after being attacked by machetes," Smits told Reuters. He added that many orangutans that came to conservation centers are suffering from respiratory problems caused by the haze.
Reuters said that there were an estimated 56,000 orangutans in the wild as of 2002 but that the population has dropped about 6,000 per year. This past August, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia Program said that Indonesia's population of orangutans stands at 20,000, down from 35,000 in 1996. Environmental groups have warned that red ape could be extinct in the wild without urgent conservation measures. Recently WWF has launched the "Heart of Borneo" campaign to pressure Indonesia's government to protect orangutan habitat by establishing reserves and cracking down on illegal logging and oil palm plantations. Nevertheless, the outlook for Orangutans is not promising. Indonesia has an appallingly high deforestation rate and seems impotent in reigning im illegal forest clearing. In recent years neighboring countries have become increasingly vocal in criticizing Indonesia's lack of progress in addressing forest fires.
In Kuching, the Semenggok Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is home to several ex-captives orang-utan families that have been rescued from poachers and smugglers. Pay a visit to the Centre if you're in Kuching, it's a good 40 minutes drive from the city centre heading out through an area known as Kota Padawan or Mile 10.

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