PLOS|ONE recently published a scientific paper about Sabah’s critically endangered orangutan population. Timeframe: 2002-2017. As expected, populations have decreased. But there is a glimpse of hope, because they have remained fairly stable in protected forests. That gives conservationists at least some optimism for the species’ future.
According to this new study, the orangutan populations did only decrease in fragmented forest areas near palm oil plantations. The study presents results of 2014–17 aerial nest surveys of the major orangutan populations in Sabah and compares them with baseline data produced during surveys conducted in 2002–03 using similar methods.
The results show three important points:
(a) By increasing the survey effort (estimated at 15–25% cover), sparsely scattered orangutan sub-populations not recorded in the previous aerial surveys were located and the accuracy of the nest count estimates is expected to improve;
(b) Large populations in the interior forests of Sabah, occupying sustainably managed logged and unlogged forests, have been stable over 15 years and are of vital importance for the species’ conservation;
(c) Fragmented populations located in eastern Sabah, that are surrounded by extensive oil palm plantations, have declined at varying rates.
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Changes to Sabah’s orangutan population in recent times: 2002–2017