The survival of endangered Orangutans hangs in the balance as conservationists continue to urge for the reintroduction of captive populations back into their natural environments. The experts state that even though habitat loss is the greatest threat to the orangutan’s survival, keeping them from their forest home will only jeopardize the survival of the entire species.
Researchers at Rutgers University have studied in depth the orangutan and its relation to their environmental and nutritional needs. The study gave researchers a better understanding of how living in an “unpredictable environment” influences the orangutan’s population density. If the orangutans cannot obtain the proper amount of food for energy both reproduction output and population will greatly suffer.
The key to the orangutan’s survival is ensuring that they are reintroduced into areas where high-energy food is in a surplus. Identifying the proper habitats will aid conservationists in properly relocating captive groups of orangutans.
The proper nutritional habitat will help ensure that the orangutan population continues to grow. Female orangutans give birth to one baby every seven to nine years. The experts believe that their reproductive rates are linked directly to nutrition.
At one time, the world’s wild orangutan populations included numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Over the past decade, orangutan numbers have heartbreakingly decreased by 50% in the wild. Though climate shifts may be responsible for some of the loss the primary threat to the orangutan is human activity. Today the Bornean orangutan is listed as endangered and the Sumatran orangutan is listed as critically endangered.
Recent studies show that approximately 7,300 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. Only an estimated 69,000 Bornean orangutans remain, however, these numbers were calculated in 2003 so it is feared the numbers are far less.
Conservationists hope that by reintroducing captive orangutans into their natural habitats they can help bring their dwindling numbers back to a healthy state.
Photo credit: Discover Wildlife