Deforestation, Poaching & Wildfires

a recently rescued orangutan baby clings to its cage (source: Taiwan News, 16 November 2017)

Orangutans are (critically) endangered, with current populations estimated to be >>INSERT TEXT<<. Three main human activities threaten – roughly equally – the remaining wild orangutan are deforestation, poaching and wildfires.

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Deforestation

Over the decades, the Bornean and Sumatran rainforests have steadily degraded and perished, resulting in the serious loss of orangutan habitat. Around the 1960s and the 1970s, these tropical rainforests were logged during the plywood boom (see image right) and many were then converted into paper&pulp plantations and transmigration areas during the 1980s and 1990s. Since the turn of the century, the remaining rainforests are further threatened by the oil palm cultivation boom. Currently, timber extraction and agribusiness – both legal and illegal – are the main causes of deforestation and orangutan habitat loss.

1980-2020 forest loss in Indonesia (source Roda, 2021; >>LINK<<)
2001-2016 drivers of forest loss throughout Indonesia (source: Austin et al, 2019)

Historically, both forest exploitation (for timber) as well as forest conversion (for coffee, paper & pulp, rubber, tea, etc) have been the main causes of orangutan habitat loss in Borneo and Sumatra. For instance, the habitat of the Bornean Orangutan was mainly replaced by grassland/shrubland or oil palm – both commercial and smallholder plantations – between 2001-2016 (see the image above). But in Sumatra, home of the Sumatran orangutan and the Tapanuli orangutan, their habitat was mostly replaced by commercial and smallholder paper & pulp and oil palm plantations.

timber extraction in Kalimantan (source: KAYON, 2016)

Poaching

>>MAIN TEXT<< Today, poaching orangutans for bushmeat and the pet trade are the main illegal contributors for the decline of orangutan populations throughout Borneo and Sumatra.

bushmeat remains to be a serious issue >>MORE<<.

The pet trade is >>MORE<<.

Wildfires

MAIN TEXT<<

Climate change …

A farmer harvests rice from a field full of weeds in northern Borneo, where socioeconomic pressures are changing traditional land-use patterns. Yves Laumonier / CIFOR.

Learn more about the threats to orangutans

  • Can palm oil save orangutans? - Millions of people around the world have seen the footage of the lone wild orangutan in an apocalyptic landscape of destroyed forest desperately trying to fight off a bulldozer; it has become symbolic of the catastrophic devastation wrought upon rainforests and wildlife by the palm oil industry.  So, it comes as no surprise that caring...