Quantifying Killing of Orangutans and Human-Orangutan Conflict in Kalimantan, Indonesia

11 November 2011 Science News

Human-orangutan conflict and hunting are thought to pose a serious threat to orangutan existence in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo. No data existed prior to the present study to substantiate these threats. We investigated the rates, spatial distribution and causes of conflict and hunting through an interview-based survey in the orangutan's range in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Between April 2008 and September 2009, we interviewed 6983 respondents in 687 villages to obtain socio-economic information, assess knowledge of local wildlife in general and orangutan encounters specifically, and to query respondents about their knowledge on orangutan conflicts and killing, and relevant laws. This survey revealed estimated killing rates of between 750 and 1800 animals killed in the last year, and between 1950 and 3100 animals killed per year on average within the lifetime of the survey respondents. These killing rates are higher than previously thought and are high enough to pose a serious threat to the continued existence of orangutans in Kalimantan. Importantly, the study contributes to our understanding of the spatial variation in threats, and the underlying causes of those threats, which can be used to facilitate the development of targeted conservation management.

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