A female Sumatran orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park in Indonesia. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler in May 2010.
While palm oil gets most of the press coverage, orangutans face a variety of threats, including hunting by rural populations, says orangutan expert Erik Meijaard in an exclusive interview with mongabay.com:
Orangutan conservationists seem to have overlooked one of the main threats to remaining orangutans, at least in Kalimantan, i.e. hunting. Recent interviews of nearly 7000 villagers in Kalimantan revealed that over a thousand orangutans are still killed annually by local people, of which more than 50% is for food. Despite hunting being recognized as a theoretical threat to orangutans, not a single conservation program is presently doing anything about it. This suggests that despite nearly 4 decades of conservation programs for orangutans, we are not even close to finding strategic solutions that will really succeed in slowing down the species’ decline. Why that is, I can only guess at, but obviously, there is still a lack of good conservation research on orangutans, or the findings of such research are not used by practitioners.
For more, read Erik’s interview at Indonesian people-not international donors or orangutan conservationists-will determine the ultimate fate of Indonesia’s forests.