Sumatran orangutans have been found to number in the thousands more than previously thought, according to a new study, which gloomily added that deforestation could soon reduce those numbers.
Orangutans, the world's largest tree-climbing mammal, once populated southeast Asia but are now limited to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, reported the BBC News
, and now a new survey boosts the population of Sumatran orangutans to 14,600, more than twice the number previous known.
An estimated 54,000 orangutans remain in Borneo.
Researchers said the Sumatran increase comes from orangutan populations believed to have been missed in previous studies rather than an actual increase in population.
"An international team of researchers has now conducted an extensive series of surveys to estimate the number of Sumatran orangutans and discovered that about 14,600 of these animals still live in the wild today – 8,000 more than previously thought," said a Max Planck Society release
"… Moreover, should the deforestation of the orangs' habitat go ahead as planned, as many as 4,500 individuals could vanish by 2030. The researchers thus urge Sumatran national and provincial legislations to implement measures to avoid negative impacts on forests where orangutans occur."
The Economic Times
said the researchers had created computer simulations of numerous future deforestation scenarios in the orangutans' habitats to come up with their estimates.
"We will need to continue to work together with the Indonesian government and other parties to ensure that this scenario will not happen," said Serge Wich, of Liverpool John Moores University in the Max Planck statement.
"A difficult task, but we all hope that we can turn the tide for the Sumatran orangutan. We would like to see appropriate environmental impact assessments conducted for all developmental planning that concerns forests in the orangutan range so that disruption to their habitat may be avoided or reduced to a minimum."
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