LJMU research uncovers ‘hidden’ orangutans

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Pic © Wikimedia Commons

Sumatran orang-utan. Pic © Wikimedia Commons

New research released by scientists from Liverpool John Moores University has revealed there are double the number of Sumatran orangutans in Indonesia than was previously thought.

The total Sumatran orangutan population was thought to be around 6,600, but the new LJMU research has estimated the number to be as high as 14,613, as of 2015.

The report outlines the factors for the change in results to be that the team found orangutans at higher elevations, which were thought to be out of reach for them, and they simply looked in new areas which were not surveyed before.

Despite the latest figures, the survey highlights that the species is still critically endangered due to forest loss and poaching.

The lead author of the LJMU research, Serge Wich, told JMU Journalism: “It was very exciting to find out that there are more Sumatran orangutans than we thought, but this does not mean that we can be complacent.

“Numerous development projects are planned in the area that – if they are not stopped – could sharply reduce the number of orangutans over the coming years.”

Current plans for future forest loss have resulted in predictions that as many as 4500 orangutans could vanish by 2030.

Mr Wich added: “The chance that there will be zero of them in the near future is certainly less now, but it is vital to realise that this does not mean the population is growing.”

The team has urged that all developmental planning be accompanied by appropriate environmental impact assessments conforming with legislation.

About Callum Smyth, JMU Journalism