Humans are known to damage. And a new study says just that. Due to deforestation and genetic evidence the study points to a catastrophic collapse in orangutan populations living in the fragmented forests of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Sabah, Malaysia. Benoit Goossens, Lounčs Chikhi,
The main researcher, Michael Bruford, points that the collapse occurred within the past hundred years. The massive effects were observed within the past decades. It can be related to massive deforestation, which began in the region in the 1890s and accelerated in the 1950s and 1970s.
AdvertisementAs stated by Goossens, a wildlife geneticist at Cardiff University who conducted the genetic study, "This is the first time that a recent and alarming decline of a great ape population--brought about by man--has been demonstrated, dated, and quantified using genetic information. Developing effective conservation and recovery programs depends on determining when the decline of a population began, its trajectory, and the original population size."
For their study, the researchers collected hair from tree nests and feces found under nests or near orangutans encountered along the Kinabatangan River. Two hundred orangutans were identified using genetic markers called microsatellites. "We used the DNA information to simulate population history and detect evidence of a population decline," Goossens explains.
Sixty percent of orangutans found in Sabah are living outside the network of protected areas. "This population will disappear forever if these forests are converted to oil-palm agriculture." The study hints. So it is time we act and save the ape population.