Saving threatened habitats worldwide

World Land Trust Launch Urgent Bid to Save Orang-utan Habitat in Borneo

28 July, 2008 - 00:00 -- World Land Trust
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July 2008 - The World Land Trust (WLT) and LEAP Conservancy (an NGO based in Borneo) are combining forces in an urgent bid to save critically endangered Orang-utans in Borneo. The Orang-utan is one of the most threatened animals in the world, and it is endangered mainly because its habitat is being destroyed catastrophically with the ever-increasing global demand for palm oil.

WLT is a UK charity (established in 1989) which works internationally to help create nature reserves, by funding the purchase of privately owned land that has high conservation value. In this case, the ownership and management of the reserve will be vested in LEAP which will ensure the commitment of the local people who will protect the Orang-utans, and their forests, in perpetuity, supported by legal protection.

Because of the demand for palm oil the price of land in Borneo is increasing almost daily, but WLT has a window of opportunity to fund the purchase of a vital piece of land for Orang-utans which connects two already protected government-owned reserves. This protected corridor will create a viable reserve for Orang-utans to live in. If we fail to secure it, and the forest is cleared, the Orang-utan population will be split into two smaller populations, and a further decline in their numbers would be inevitable.

WLT needs to raise £343,364 over the next six months. This will give a future to the estimated 604 Orang-utans currently depending on these forests; this works out at a mere £568 per individual. And in addition to Orang-utans, the reserve will protect many other rare and threatened species, including the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, the Proboscis Monkey and several species of hornbill together with all the other biodiversity in the forest.

The WLT's patron, Sir David Attenborough has stated, 'Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for Orang-utans. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade, and we must do all we can to reverse this devastation. I fully support World Land Trust in its bid to save this important land!'

Your donation, whether it is £25 or £25,000 will make a real difference - and if we raise more than the immediate £343,364 needed for this we will be able to create more corridors to save the lives of Orang-utans, and other unique wildlife that lives in the fragments of forests in Borneo.

Editors Notes:

  • The Borneo Orang-utan is classified as endangered.
  • The wild population is currently estimated to be between 40-50,000 (half the number recorded 20 years ago).
  • The Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation has warned that the rapid rate of deforestation caused by the palm oil industry means that the orangutan could be virtually extinct in the wild by 2012.
  • Throughout Sumatra and Borneo the palm-oil industry has been responsible for the clearance of over 6.5 million hectares of rainforest and other vital orangutan habitat to make way for oil-palm plantations.
  • Palm oil is one of the most valuable sources of biofuels, and Indonesia and Malaysia are responsible for producing 83% of it globally.
  • The oil palm industry could be responsible for 50% of the noticeable reduction in orangutan habitat between 1992 and 2003.
  • A UN report states: 'Today, the rapid increase in [oil palm] plantation acreage is one of the greatest threats to orang-utans and the forests on which they depend. In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is now the primary cause of permanent rainforest loss. The huge demand for this versatile product makes it very difficult to curb the spread of plantations.'
  • With the western world becoming increasingly preoccupied with healthy eating, palm oil is an attractive alternative to trans fatty acids. Palm oil is now found in 1/10 of supermarket products in Britain and Britain import tonnes of it annually. Unfortunately it is very difficult to avoid palm oil in products as in many of the items it is used in ingredients are not listed.
  • FOE claim: "Almost 90 per cent of orang-utan habitat has now disappeared. Some orang-utan populations have been halved in the past 15 years, and from a total remaining population of less than 60,000, an estimated 5,000 are lost each year. If this rate of decline continues the orang-utan will be extinct within 12 years."

For press enquiries contact:
Emma Beckett

Kirsty Burgess, Conservation Programmes Manager at World Land Trust on
01986 874 422

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