Researchers in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo are joyful after receiving confirmation that a young male orangutan used a rope bridge to cross a river, which has separated one orangutan population from another. Due to logging and clearing forests for oil palm plantations, which cover 18 percent of land in Sabah, orangutans on the Kinabantangan River have been cut into fragmented populations.
"Over the years we have received numerous local eye witness reports of the orangutans using these rope bridges but this is the first time we have received photographic evidence which clearly shows a young male orangutan using the first rope bridge we constructed in 2003 to cross over Resang river, a small tributary of Kinabatangan," explains primatologist, Dr. Isabelle Lackman, Co-Director of the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project (KOCP) in a press statement.
Photos of a male orangutan using the rope bridge were captured by Ajirun Osman, who says that after the male spent twenty minutes at the rope bridge, he crossed: "it seemed like once he decided to cross, he did so very fast going over in about three minutes from the Pangi Forest Reserve into Lot 1 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary."
Orangutans used to cross such rivers employing the canopies of old growth forests, which easily spanned small rivers. However since the trees have been logged, researchers decided artificial bridges were needed to allow fragmented populations to meet. Six bridges have been built by KOCP, a joint venture between the Sabah Wildlife Department and the French NGO, HUTAN.
"Using rope bridges is a quick fix but eventually the most ideal solution would be to reconnect the forest and we are all working on this. And when I say 'we' I mean everyone from Governmental sector to environmental NGOs and crucially the palm oil industry as well," said wildlife veterinarian Dr. Marc Ancrenaz who is also the Co-Director of KOCP.
Full story here.