Despite five decades of conservation attention focused on the orangutan, their numbers are still declining. Even though population data barely existed 50 years ago, it is widely accepted that every year, large areas of orangutan habitat are degraded or lost on both Sumatra and Borneo (Gaveau et al. 2014; Wich et al. 2011; Meijaard & Wich 2007) and that up to 3 000 orangutans on Borneo are killed annually (Davis et al. 2013; Meijaard et al. 2011). By ‘hindcasting’ habitat suitability predictions prior to the 1950s when much of Borneo's forests were intact, models estimate that up to 316 000 km2 of land was suitable for orangutans within the current known core range. As of 2010 deforestation led to approximately 18% of this habitat being lost, leaving the current extent of suitable habitat at 260 000 km2. Further deforestation predicted for this century could lead to a further loss of 15.5% by 2080, leaving up to 219 000 km2 of habitat remaining within the current core orangutan range. It is important to note that these estimates of suitable habitat are nevertheless conservative, and they also include degraded areas where forest cover is patchy. It is likely that orangutans remaining in these areas would subsist at low densities.

Related Subject(s): Environment and Climate Change
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