Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tsunami disaster further imperils orangutan habitat

Aptos resident Shirley Randolph spends too much of her time collecting monkey pron.

Aptos resident Shirley Randolph has been on the front lines of the effort to save the endangered orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo for the past six years.

She’s afraid she’s losing the battle.

Though hundreds have been saved with the support of the nonprofit foundation Randolph co-founded in 1998, thousands more have been lost as a result of illegal logging, poaching and forest fires. And in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, Randolph and others fear a desperate situation will only get worse with forest resources in high demand to rebuild.

"So many villages were wiped out right on the edge of this extraordinary rainforest," Randolph said. "People can’t talk about the animals because the people are so devastated."

Today, fewer than 20,000 of one of man’s closest relatives may be left, and the numbers continue to drop. Some experts predict the apes, unique to the two Indonesian islands, will disappear from the wild altogether in another decade.

Story here.

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