Rampant poaching, assisted by the increasing number of roads and logging trails, poses a grave threat to Borneo’s endangered species.
Wildlife crime is a big business. Run by dangerous international networks, wildlife and animal parts are trafficked like illegal drugs and arms. Experts at TRAFFIC
, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimate that it runs into hundreds of millions of dollars.
A number of the species that call the Heart of Borneo home are at risk:
Sir David Attenborough, renowned naturalist and filmmaker, chose the pangolin (Manis javanica
) as one of ten species he would save from extinction .
According to TRAFFIC, pangolins are the most common species of mammal in international trade, with animals being taken from all across Asia to meet the demand for use in traditional medicines, and for meat, mostly in China. Demand is greatest for the scales. Made of keratin - like fingernails and rhino horn - pangolin scales are used as a treatment for a range of ailments from rheumatism and arthritis, to reducing swelling and discharging pus.
Pangolin meat is also popular and said to have general health benefits. The meat from pangolin fetuses is considered a delicacy.
A 2010 TRAFFIC report
estimated that one group in the Malaysian state of Sabah was responsible for taking 22,000 pangolins over 18 months.
The Sunda pangolin, found in Borneo, is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List
The Borneo peat swamp forests are home to the world's most desirable aquarium fish, the Arowana
The Arowana is thought to bring luck, wealth, prosperity and strength – all positive feng shui. People also believe the Arowana has supernatural powers, or that it symbolises wealth and refinement, like a piece of art.
In Japan, the Super Red Arowana can fetch prices ranging between $2,000-$200,000.
Due to its popularity, demand and outrageous price tag, the Super Red Arowana has been fished almost to extinction in West Kalimantan and it's extremely rare to catch one in the wild.
Young orangutans are in demand for a flourishing pet trade, with each animal fetching several hundred dollars in city markets on nearby islands.
Studies indicate that 200-500 orangutans from Indonesian Borneo alone enter the pet trade each year. This represents a real threat to wild orangutan populations as orangutans have an extremely low reproductive rate.
There is also trade in orangutan parts in Kalimantan, with orangutan skulls fetching up to $70 in towns.
Orangutans are hunted for food in some areas. Hunting is the likely cause of the very low estimated densities of orangutans in low-hill forests, particularly in the upper reaches of the Katingan and Barito rivers in Central Kalimantan and Pawan river in West Kalimantan.