The orangutan population fell dramatically in the 20th century, with total numbers now less than 10% what they were.
Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) number about 54,000, of which 11,000 live in Sabah state in the north-east of the island, mainly outside protected zones in forests where logging takes place or land is being converted into palm oil plantations. They are classed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
In 1998, in partnership with the Lower Kinabatangan community and the Sabah Wildlife Department, the French NGO Hutan put in place the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program (KOCP), which aims to preserve orangutans and other Sabah wildlife through the following means:
- research (studying the behaviour of and tracking orangutan populations in protected areas, logging forests and palm plantations)
- habitat protection (reforestation, fighting illegal activities, creating corridors and artificial bridges allowing isolated orangutan populations to link up...) and wildlife conservation (settling conflicts between humans and animals, running anti-hunting patrols...)
- fostering sustainable development in communities (developing ecotourism by encouraging home-stays, creating community plant nurseries, training local conservation assistants...)
- awareness (developing environmental education programs for schoolchildren, teachers, local communities...).
Hutan also initiates studies and develops conservation strategies for other species in the Kinabatangan region: elephants, hornbills, swallows, freshwater turtles, amphibians, butterflies…
The Zoo de La Palmyre has contributed financially to Hutan since 2002.
International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Photo credit: © Hutan.