Environment

Government provides protection to orangutans

KUALA LUMPUR: The government of Malaysia has implemented various initiatives to conserve and protect its wildlife and biodiversity. 

In conjunction with World OrangUtan Day today, Plantation Industries and Commodities minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said there have always been allegations that Malaysian palm oil being the biggest threat to the orangutans.  

“With the exponential growth of the human population on the planet, a world without palm oil can surely lead to a global food crisis given that the golden oil makes up over 60 per cent of the global edible oils market.”

However, she said: “With the exponential growth of the human population on the planet, a world without palm oil can surely lead to a global food crisis given that the golden oil makes up over 60 per cent of the global edible oils market.”

To showcase that humans and nature can co-exist in harmony, Malaysia has allotted 43 square km of protected land at the edge of the Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sabah as a rehabilitation site for orangutans. 

She added that now around 60 to 80 orangutans are living independently in the reserve while approximately 25 orphaned orangutans are housed in the nurseries. 

“At the ministerial level, the government has initiated the Malaysian Palm Oil Green Conservation Foundation (MPOGCF) through the Malaysian Palm Oil Council as a sustainability platform funded by the palm oil industry through the collection of cesses to reflect the industry’s commitment towards ensuring palm oil players and smallholders remain sustainable in their practices. 

“In this regard, the foundation is joining forces with Sabah Wildlife Department to support wildlife rescue and conservation efforts. 

“This includes the establishment of Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit which was set up by the Sabah Wildlife Department in collaboration with MPOGCF, with the main task of rescuing and translocating distressed wildlife including orangutans.” 

Zuraida said in addition to that, the foundation also initiated the 1-Million Forest-Tree Planting program in 2019, a 10-year Rehabilitation of Orangutan Habitat Project in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department at Lower Kawag, Ulu Segama Forest Reserve in Lahad Datu, Sabah as part of the industry’s initiative, with an estimated investment of RM28 million. 

MPOGCF has also funded two key orangutan conservation initiatives in the Borneo states: Population Survey on the Orangutans living in Sabah’s agricultural landscape by the Borneo Conservation Trust together with HUTAN which was completed in 2018.

The survey areas include assessing the status of orangutan conservation as well as the trends in orangutan distribution, densities and conservation threats, among others;

There is also also collaboration on Orangutan Conservation Programme in Sarawak with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation since 2014 which was completed in 2017 with the publication of a full scientific report alongside orangutan conservation efforts in Sarawak’s protected areas; the national parks of Ulu Sebuyau, Sedilu, Gunung Lesung and Maludam. 

Meanwhile, she also quoted WWF-Malaysia researcher cum orangutan manager Donna Simon’s  scientific paper, the study showed that the population of orangutans in Sabah has been stabilised for 15 years (2002 – 2017).

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