September 17, 2015

Four Baby Orangutans Give Hope to Wildlife Protection in Malaysia

Four Baby Orangutans Give Hope to Wildlife Protection in Malaysia

An Orangutan and her Child via Pixabay

For the first time ever, four baby orangutans were born in close succession at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.  The achievement is a proud one for the orangutan conservation effort, but these four baby orangutans give hope to more than their species.

Baby orangutans Spike, Camelia, Daniel and Doris were born and successfully introduced to the wild thanks to the Orangutan Appeal UK, a Malaysian-based UK NGO.  This organization is the first foreign NGO ever to be recognized by the Malaysian Government.  Orangutan Appeal UK’s founding in 2000 was an important development – an opening of Malaysian arms to foreign environmental programs that had never happened before.  Also important to the event is Sabah, the Malaysian state it occurred in.

Like nearby areas, Sabah contains exceptionally valuable and biodiverse forests.  Unlike nearby areas, Sabah is seeing a real uptick in conservation measures.

Of the 50,000 orangutans left in the world, about 40,000 live in Borneo and Sumatra.  Both of these areas are being aggressively logged, mined, flooded or transformed into palm oil plantations.  Because of all this, orangutans and many other species have lost over 80% of their habitat in the last 20 years.  The future in most of this area looks bleak, but the Malaysian state of Sabah is showing signs of positive change.

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve – a large forest park protecting many endangered species in Malaysia – was made possible by the environmental disposition of Sabah’s government.  This disposition also made it possible for Orangutan Appeal UK to take root, and has resulted in recognition of sustainable forest management and the protections of other species including the pygmy elephant.  Neighboring Malaysian state Sarawak is doing great things for species protection as well (saving orangutans and cracking down on illegal logging, for example), but Sabah is a real focal point for this conversation.

With this in mind, the four baby orangutans are a metaphor for new environmental growth in Malaysia.

“This is an amazing achievement and proves just how incredibly successful our Post Release Monitoring Programme has been. These four babies are so important to maintain the orangutan population for future generations,” said Orangutan Appeal UK founder Susan Sheward.

Perhaps the achievement will also serve to mark the beginning of a countrywide momentum shift from industrial to environmental.

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