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WWF-Malaysia provide livelihoods while conserving orangutans in Sarawak

BATANG AI: WWF-Malaysia is working to provide livelihoods for local communities while conserving orangutans in Ulu Sungai Menyang here

Its conservation director Dr Henry Chan said by doing so , such a measure could help to eliminate eliminate pressures to convert nearby forests which are also habitat for orang-utan.

In Sarawak, the sub-species is Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus, and is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

It is estimated that Sarawak has less than 2,000 orang-utans that mainly inhabit inside protected or conservation areas which are the Batang Ai National Park, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, and Ulu Sungai Menyang Conservation Area.

Moreover these areas are near communities, as well as adjacent to Kalimantan, Indonesia. 

Dr Chan said in 2016, WWF-Malaysia embarked on an ambitious pilot conservation project that involved improving the community’s livelihoods in Ulu Sungai Menyang with the support from Forest Department Sarawak (FDS), Rumah Manggat community and a private company.

The project is part of the Green Economy in the Heart of Borneo transboundary conservation work funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany. 

“Orang-utans are known to venture into Rumah Manggat’s farm land and secondary forest especially during fruiting seasons, and the longhouse community revere these great apes as they believe humans are descendants of orang-utans,” he said.  

WWF-Malaysia provided 11,000 native agarwood or gaharu seedlings (Aquilaria microcarpa) to be planted on Rumah Manggat’s 5.5 ha degraded land in 2017 in batches with the help of volunteers arranged by FDS. These seedlings added to the 3,000 gaharu seedlings planted earlier by Forestry Department  

Dr Chan explained that traditionally, gaharu trees are inoculated to produce resinous aromatic wood for the use of incense and perfumes. 

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