It’s all numbers and logical consequences. If the rate of decline is faster than the rate of replenishment, you’ll eventually end up with the number zero.

That has been the case with Orang Utan population. It has been on the decline in the past decades at a free falling rate — whether in Borneo and in Sumatra — over the past few decades.

A latest study indicated that the rate of decline may have been sharper due to numerous reason.

According to new findings published this month by Great Ape Trust of Iowa scientist Dr. Serge Wich and other orangutan conservation experts in Oryx - The International Journal of Conservation, there is every possibility that the actual number of Orang Utan at the moment is very much lower than previous estimate.

Great Ape Trust of Iowa said:

The experts’ revised estimates put the number of Sumatran orangutans (P. abelii) around 6,600 in 2004.

This is lower than previous estimates of 7,501 as a result of new findings that indicate that a large area in Aceh that was previously thought to contain orangutans actually does not.

Since forest loss in Aceh has been relatively low from 2004 to 2008, the 2004 estimate is probably not much higher than the actual number in 2008.

The 2004 estimate of about 54,000 Bornean orangutans (P. pygmaeus) is probably also higher than the actual number today as there has been a 10 percent orangutan habitat loss in the Indonesian part of Borneo during that period.

“It is clear that the Sumatran orangutan is in rapid decline and unless extraordinary efforts are made soon, it could become the first great ape species to go extinct,” Wich et al said in the report.

“Although these revised estimates for Borneo are encouraging, forest loss and associated loss of orangutans are occurring at an alarming rate, and suggest that recent reductions of Bornean orangutan populations have been far more severe than previously supposed.”

The experts’ report includes sweeping recommendations for:

* Effective law enforcement and prosecution to stop hunting orangutans for food and trade;

* Mechanisms to mitigate and reduce human-orangutan conflict in agricultural areas, including large-scale plantations;

* The development of an auditing process to assess the compliance of forestry concessions to their legal obligation to ensure orangutans are not hunted in concession areas;

* Increased environmental awareness at the local level, following examples set by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program and the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project that promote awareness of conservation of forests and the importance of biodiversity;

* Development of mechanisms to monitor orangutan populations and forest cover, building on those in place on both Borneo and Sumatra;

* Continuation of surveys in less explored regions; and

* Continued improvement of survey methodology to include nest-decay rates.

“All efforts to monitor orangutans, however, will be to no avail unless the decline in numbers is halted, and this requires a change in political will,” the statement said, quoting Wich et al.

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