A focused and joint effort is necessary to prevent the extinction of the Bornean orangutan within our lifetime. This is the conclusion to a new study proving that more than 100,000 orangutans in Borneo have been killed since 1999. The study places an additional emphasis on an alarming rate of orangutans disappearing from untouched rainforest areas, likely due to hunting or the illegal wildlife trade.

A large team of scientists have recently published a study on the Bornean orangutan’s situation in the journal Current Biology. The study reveals little optimistic findings. In the period between 1999 and 2015, more than 100,000, maybe even up to 150,000, orangutans have disappeared from the Bornean forests. An additional 45,000 orangutans will disappear before 2050 if the current deforestation continues. This is catastrophic news for the Bornean orangutan, whose IUCN status changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’ in 2016. IUCN, who is supported by the UN, estimates that the remaining population of orangutans consists of only 100,000 individuals.

A surprising reason to the critical pressure on the orangutan

The study shows orangutan populations disappear the quickest from industrial land, such as areas with oil palm plantations, mining, or logging. Surprisingly, however, the largest number of killed orangutans occur in primary forest areas.

This alarming development is most likely due to the increasing hunt and trade in orangutans. Based on interviews with the local communities, the scientists estimate that 2300 orangutans in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) are killed annually as a result of hunting.

We are experiencing the consequences of the hunting

Several news about brutal killings of orangutans have been brought in international media recently, and the publication of the new study reveals these stories are only the tip of the iceberg.

At Save the Orangutan, we also experience the consequences. Several of the infant orangutans arriving at BOS Foundation’s rehabilitation centres are orphaned, most likely because their mothers have been killed as a result of hunting.

Still hope for the orangutan

At Save the Orangutan, we support the establishment of new self-sustaining populations of rehabilitated orangutans, and involvement of and awareness raising among the local communities is a crucial part of our efforts. Moreover, we experience increased support from the Indonesian government to stop the illegal practice of killing the orangutans.

Save the Orangutan’s efforts are more relevant than ever, and we will continue to focus our efforts on protecting the wild orangutan populations and rescuing and helping the displaced and orphaned orangutans in Borneo. Read more about our work here >>

Here’s how you can help the critically endangered orangutan in Borneo >>


Read the full study from Cell Press – Current Biology

Video from National Geographic: The main conclusions to the study: