The orangutan is critically endangered but continues to be killed in Borneo. However, the work that Save the Orangutan and other organizations are doing brings hope for the future.

A recent study highlighted by The Guardian shows that although it is both taboo and criminal to kill orangutans, it occurred in a third of 79 villages surveyed in Kalimantan – the Indonesian part of Borneo. An older study mentioned in the article claims that between 2-3,000 orangutans are killed annually. This should be seen in the light that there are only between 50 – 100,000 individuals left in the wild on the island.

Various reasons

The background to the killing varies and the reasons are socially complex, according to the researchers. It can be due to fear, but also because the animals invade gardens and crops. Sometimes mothers are killed tosnatch the cubs and sell them on as pets and for performance. It also happens that orangutans are killed for their meat or for body parts.

The researchers were curious if nearby orangutan conservation projects might have any impact on the kill, but could see no such connection. They are thus calling for more collaboration between villagers and aid organizations to address the problem.

Educational efforts

Save the Orangutan has been conducting active project collaborations in Borneo for several years to involve and strengthen local communities as a way to increase respect and understanding for the orangutan.

A current example is from the Mawas area where a 68 mile road will be built right through a sensitive part of the forest. This will have a huge impact for more than 2,500 wild orangutans. But with dialogue, education and workshops for and with the local community, confrontations between animals and humans can be reduced and, at best, stopped.

Aware of the problem

– The outcome of this research is of course awful for all of us who work tirelessly to save the orangutan. We are well aware of the problem but we see that collaboration with local communities is the key to change. Therefore, our program activities are a very important part of the organization’s work and our ambition is for that part to grow in the coming years, says Hanne Gürtler, Secretary General at Save the Orangutan.

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