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Orangutans are Being Hunted and Eaten to Extinction

A surprising new survey conducted as a collaborative effort by 20 conservation organizations and involving 6983 respondents from 687 Indonesian villages has found that human-orangutan conflicts are more common that previously thought, often resulting in orangutans being killed and eaten.

Indonesia, which is home to 90 percent of the orangutans left in the wild — was blanketed with plush rain forests less than 50 years ago, but half those trees have since been cleared in the rush to supply the world with timber, pulp, paper and more recently, palm oil.

As a result, most of the remaining 50,000 to 60,000 apes live in scattered, degraded forests, putting them in frequent, and often deadly, conflict with humans.

This survey revealed estimated rates of between 750 and 1800 animals killed in the last year, and between 1950 and 3100 animals killed per year on average within the lifetime of the survey respondents. These killing rates are higher than previously thought and are high enough to pose a serious threat to the continued existence of orangutans in Kalimantan.

Neil Makinuddin, program manager of The Nature Conservancy, said they were surprised that over half the respondents reported killing and then eating orangutans (either because they entered crops, scared people or were hunted outright for their meat).

Image Source: Trisha Shears/Flickr