Monday, February 17

Climate change major threat to orang utan

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KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is concerned over the long-term survival of Malaysia’s orang utan if safeguards are not put into place to prevent future issues arising from climate change.

“As climate change causes an increase in temperatures, plants orang-utans eat will change and decline, leaving them no option but to move further up in higher areas.

“However this will be very difficult and mostly impossible in the future due to the current state of their forest which is mostly isolated and fragmented,”warned SWD Director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu in a statement here yesterday.

He said Sabah was now home to 80 percent of the Malaysian orang-utan population, making SWD the custodians of a large majority of the country’s orang utans.

He said Stephen Gregory of Adelaide University in Australia and a team of researchers including those based in Sabah, had developed a series of models to simulate what would be needed to sustain the orang utans.

Meanwhile, Gregory said he and the other researchers based their approach on their current knowledge of orang utans’ population trends and distribution.

“We found that anticipated climate changes are going to cause reduction of the overall number of orang utans because of the impacts these changes will have on the forest,” he shared. — Bernama