Sunday, June 16

‘Urgent need to study wild primate species’

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MORE RESEARCH NEEDED: A mother orang utan and her baby during feeding time at Semengoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. — Photo by Asha Kaushal/Sarawak Biodiversity Centre

Sundai Silang

KUCHING: There is an urgent need for more local researchers to study all primate species in the wild.

At the same time, continuous effort must be emphasised for the orang utans.

In general, the interest to study primates is not many. Many undergraduates prefer to take up courses such as information technology. There are only a handful of primate researchers in Sarawak,” said Sarawak Forestry Corporation biologist Sundai Silang who has been studying primates for over 12 years.

Sarawak has quite a number of primate species, but very little is known about other species (other than orang utans). We are so lucky that all the areas that have these species are protected because the orang utans are also there, and thus, they are also taken care of.

But in terms of ecology, habitat and so on of these other species, not much is known. So I really encourage our people, especially undergraduates to take up the challenge.”

He also highlighted that much remains unknown about the orang utans such as their population and geographical distribution in the state, and thus, research needs to be continued in these areas.

Sundai also urged Sarawakians to take the lead on research of the state’s flora and fauna so that they will have a solid knowledge base and therefore, a stronger voice over how it is conserved and managed, especially when interacting with international research and conservation bodies.

He was responding to a reporter’s query after speaking at a public awareness talk on ‘Orang utans of Sarawak’ organised by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) at their headquarters in Jalan Borneo Heights here yesterday.

The talk was attended by over 80 members of the public including students, SBC staff and local and foreign researchers.