February 18, 2018

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Borneo Has Lost 100,000 Orangutans Since 1999

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Borneo has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – about half of the critically endangered species native to the island. Bay Ismoyo /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Bay Ismoyo /AFP/Getty Images

The world’s largest species of orangutans is rapidly disappearing.

Borneo has lost more than 100,000 orangutans in the last 16 years – that’s more than the number of the critically endangered species remaining.

This species — the Bornean orangutan — is only found on the island, which is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. It has seen dramatic deforestation, as lush jungle is converted into palm oil and paper pulp plantations.

But deforestation doesn’t full explain the great apes’ rapid decline. Maria Voigt, a scientist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, says hunting is “at least a major driver if not the major driver.” The team’s research, carried out through the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, was published today in Current Biology.

Voigt and her research team compiled years of field surveys about the Bornean orangutans’ population. “And after these 16 years, basically there was enough data to pull it together

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