Bornean orangutans are one step closer to extinction after scientists at theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) officially announce their status is now ‘Critically Endangered’ in the wild; the last step before being declared extinct in the wild.

img_57cfebf7049fe

This announcement follows an assessment led by Marc Ancrenaz – scientific director at HUTAN, our project partners in Borneo – into their current status. It has been proven that the number of Bornean orangutans will decline by about 80% between 1950 and 2025 (given current development plans by the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia).

To put that into perspective – an 80% decline is like losing four out of five people you know!

Over the past 40 years, a total of 17.7 million hectares of forest has been destroyed in Borneo, mainly due to make way for oil palm plantations. Half of these forests used to be prime orangutan habitat. Deforestation is accelerating and it’s predicted that a further 15 million hectares of forests will be cleared and converted to plantations by 2025! However, this isn’t the only threat this incredible species is facing; it is being hunted for its meat and to stop crops from being raided.

The future is looking pretty bleak for the orangutan but there’s still hope.

Palm oil trees
Palm oil trees

Two major strategies exist to save orangutans from extinction: protecting the individuals or protecting their forest habitat. These strategies are both complex, but we can all contribute to make a difference.

Marc Ancrenaz tells us more:

We will continue to work with HUTAN and fight to save orangutans from extinction. You can too by joining our Sustainable Palm Oil Challenge today or make a donation here. Watch this space for more updates from our latest field trip to Borneo.