Rainforest Trust’s continued conservation efforts in Borneo protect essential habitat for the critically endangered species.
Last week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published a new assessment of the Bornean Orangutan, escalating the status from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species. According to the assessment, Bornean Orangutan populations have been decreasing due to “habitat loss, habitat degradation and illegal hunting” with a population decline of over 60 percent between 1950 and 2010, and an estimated additional decline of 22 percent by 2025.
The Red List assessment states, “The future of Bornean Orangutans will very much depend on the long-term security of large, strictly-protected forests where illegal logging and hunting will be efficiently controlled,” referencing a 2011 study by Meijaard et al.
Rainforest Trust has been actively working to protect the habitats in Borneo that these apes depend on. Through collaboration with Bornean partners and the state government, the Kuamut Forest Reserve was formally established in 2015. The protected area— nearly four times the size of the District of Columbia— strategically links two of Borneo’s largest protected areas, which are vital to conserving one of the planet’s last remaining strongholds of biodiversity.
Converted from a former logging concession, the new reserve will regenerate and recover to abundant rainforest again through the dedicated efforts of a well-trained and equipped team of forest guards. Without protection, it was predicted that around 40 percent of the Kuamut Forest Reserve would have been developed into agricultural land within the next five years.
The IUCN indicates that if the region’s forests are not protected from timber extraction, conversion to agriculture and other land uses, more than half of the current orangutan habitat will be lost in the next 50 years.
“Protecting Borneo’s remaining lowland rainforests from logging and expanding oil palm plantations is crucial for endangered wildlife like the Bornean Orangutan,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust.
Rainforest Trust is dedicated to safeguarding critical habitats in Borneo for threatened species, with a commitment to protect an additional 100,000 acres across the island. Learn more about Rainforest Trust’s role in establishing the Kuamut Forest Reserve and the ongoing efforts to protect Borneo’s rainforests.
Header photo: Orangutans. Photo by Eric Kilby.