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Urgent measures are needed to save orangutans from extinction, according to a mid Wales student


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Date: 2020-02-03

Source: BBC

Student's fears for orangutan

Urgent measures are needed to save orang-utans from extinction, according to a mid Wales student who has worked with rescuing the animals.

This week, global environment body, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has claimed the orangutan could become extinct in the wild by 2025.

It revealed that, in the last century, the number of apes fell by 91% in its habitats of Borneo and Sumatra, and blames destruction of the forests for the decline.

Abigail Dymond, a University of Wales student in Aberystwyth who worked at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Malaysia, for the last year, is concerned by the report.

"The west have to stop buying up all the oil palm which is one of the reasons for the deforestation," she said.

"Commercial logging is another problem that has to be reduced."

Ms Dymond said she had "always wanted to work with orangutans because they are extremely sweet and friendly creatures".

"It was not easy to find a placement involving the kind of voluntary work that I had in mind, but I was delighted when I heard of this centre in Sabah and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience," she said.

For the first month of her stay, Ms Dymond worked with orang-utans brought from nearby rainforests who were not strong enough to look after themselves.

"Some were injured and orphaned, and I spent my time feeding them every two hours and giving them two baths every day and caring for them as if they were real babies." she said.

"I spent the second month looking after older orangutans who were not strong enough to look after themselves in their own habitat.

"They lived in a large outdoor nursery and our work was to prepare them to return to the jungle."

Unsustainable decline

Almost 80% of all forests in Malaysia and Indonesia have now been logged.

The WWF believes there were between 45,000 and 60,000 orang-utans alive in 1987.

But that number had been halved by 2001.

The Sumatran orangutan is now classified as critically endangered with only an estimated 9,000 specimens.

Stuart Chapman, head of the species programme at WWF-UK said the orang-utan could tolerate a loss in numbers of about 2% annually.

"This loss of 50% in 15 years is completely unsustainable, hence the urgency of the conservation work," he said.

Story from BBC NEWS

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