Orangutan Conservation in Sabah, Malaysia

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Malaysia > Sabah (Borneo)

Summary

The purpose of this community-based research and conservation project is to preserve the orangutan and its habitat in Sabah, East Malaysia. There will be a particular focus on the Kinabatangan floodplain – home to 1 of the largest orangutan populations in Sabah. The proposed project period will be crucial to ensure the further engagement of the local community in the conservation-oriented management of the newly gazetted Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Background

The Sabah government has recently gazetted 26,000 hectares of lowland forest in the floodplain of the Kinabatangan river in Sabah (Malaysia) as a wildlife sanctuary. Within this and the neighbouring forest reserves is a key orangutan population of approximately 1,000 individuals living in patchy dryland dipterocarp (tropical lowland rainforest trees), peat swamp and freshwater swamp forest, some of which has been heavily degraded and fragmented by illegal logging and forest conversion to agriculture.

These threats to the habitat of the orangutan need to be urgently addressed.

Objectives

1. Conduct orangutan research and conservation activities.

2. Improve the policy framework for the management of orangutan populations.

3. Enhance community engagement in the conservation of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

4. Build capacity and community environmental education and awareness.

5. Collaborate with research and conservation projects managed by other institutions in Sabah.

Solution

1. Research, conservation activities and policies:
- Orangutan population census and monitoring, eco-ethological and genetics studies, population health assessment and monitoring.
- Based on long-term research results, formulation of orangutan conservation policies in Sabah and internationally.
- Kinabatangan wildlife corridor project (orangutan bridges, reforestation, land purchase).

2. Community engagement in the conservation of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS):
- Assist the Sabah Wildlife Department in law enforcement and management activities through the Honorary Wildlife Warden Programme.
- Human-wildlife conflict mitigation.
- Community initiatives for sustainable development compatible with the long-term conservation of local natural resources (fishermen for conservation, orangutan tourism, community tree farms).
- Community environmental education and awareness.

3. Training platform:
- Intensive capacity programme for national and international conservation professionals, Malaysian students, project staff and local communities.

4. Collaboration with research and conservation projects managed by other institutions in Sabah.

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