May 27, 2009

Steps Taken To Prevent Orangutan Inbreeding, Safety

Wildlife activists have constructed a bridge that connects treetops in an orangutan refuge on Borneo Island to encourage the endangered mammals to find new partners and thwart inbreeding.

The 142 ft suspension bridge was finished in April at the Lower Kinabatangan Sanctuary located in the state of Sabah, the New Straits Times announced.

"But this is a temporary measure. In the long run, we must create forest corridors for orangutans and other animals to move about," noted Nobuo Nakanishi from the Borneo Conservation Trust Japan, which funded the venture.

Orangutan environments in Malaysia and Indonesia have been destroyed as their jungle homes are wiped out from logging and to create room for plantations, which heightens the chance of inbreeding as they are forced into smaller and more limited groups.

The 64,250-acre Lower Kinabatangan sanctuary is separated into 10 areas amid oil palm plantations and villages.

Experts estimate that there are 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans that exist in the wild, 80% of which are in Indonesia and the others are in Malaysian's eastern regions of Sabah and Sarawak.

A 2007 review by the United Nations Environment Program advised that orangutans would be practically destroyed in the wild in the next two decades if existing deforestation practices continue.