Borneo’s Orangutan Population Declining

Borneo%27s+Orangutan+Population+Declining

Halina Dreger

Over the past few decades, the population of a number of species has been on the decline, including that of Borneo’s orangutans. According to CNN, there are less than half of these apes on the island than there were 16 years ago. A Current Biology article has reported that while there are now only 70,000 to 100,000 of these animals left, a decline by at least 148,000.

It is expected that another 45,000 will be lost by 2050.

Borneo- part of Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia- is one of two islands that host orangutans, the other being Indonesia’s Sumatra.

Why such a large decline in the orangutan population? Well, one major factor is palm oil. Palm oil is found in the trees of the forests that orangutans thrive in. Unfortunately, to obtain this oil, the trees must be destroyed, ruining the apes’ habitat and leaving them no place to call home. Although there are “sustainable” palm oil plantations that replant the trees, such as those that produce the oil used in Girl Scout Cookies, these are more expensive and are uncommon.

Palm oil is found in a variety of foods, such as Cheez-Its, Nutella, and more.

However, the plantations are only part of the demise of the orangutans. According to the study, a majority of the population decline is a result of losses in partially logged forests, not those completely destroyed. This points to one major cause of the issue: hunting.

It is common for hunters who kill wild pigs and other creatures in the forests to also shoot orangutans. In addition, the apes who need to travel near palm oil plantations are shot at as well.

It is clear that these precious animals are being severely threatened by human activity. Although we cannot directly go to these islands and stop poachers, we can decrease the buying of products containing oil and do our part to help save our fellow animals.