WCS Malaysia

Orang-utan conservation in Sarawak

A wild orang-utan spotted in the Engkari-Telaus Community Conservation Landscape. Photo © Daniel Kong

The orang-utans in Sarawak are recognised as the northwest Bornean sub-species, Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus. It is estimated that 90% of this sub-species in Sarawak is found in the Batang Ai National Park (BANP) and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) landscape. This landscape is approximately 1,920 km2 in area size. Together with the Betung Kerihun National Park of West Kalimantan, Indonesia, they form the Trans-boundary Biodiversity Conservation Area (TBCA), which forms the largest protected area where the Bornean species of orang-utan occur.

 

Two more national parks were gazetted outside the BANP-LEWS landscape in 2010 for the purpose of orang-utan conservation. They are the Ulu Sebuyau National Park (July 2010) and Sedilu National Park (September 2010).

 

In May 2013, another landscape to the south of the proposed Southern extension of BANP known as the Ulu Sungai Menyang landscape was announced at the Sarawak’s State Legislative Assembly as a High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) after a survey of the area confirmed that there was up to 200 orang-utans in April 2013. Also in the same month, two formerly proposed extensions to LEWS were gazetted as part of the Wildlife Sanctuary for the purpose of orang-utan conservation which added 142.25 km2 to the landscape.

 

Threats

Although Bornean orang-utans are endangered and protected by the strictest laws on this island, it is threatened because of forest loss and illegal hunting.

 


Past WCS Activities

  • Developed the Orang-utan Strategic Action Plan (OUSAP) for the TBCA with the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), Forest Department Sarawak (FDS) and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) (2009-2011).
  • Since 2003, conducted orang-utan nest count survey at the BANP-LEWS landscape, and developed a study design for the orang-utan nest count survey at the proposed extension areas of BANP-LEWS landscape (2010-2012). The aim of the survey was to estimate current abundances of orang-utan surrounding the landscape.
  • Jointly developed a radio program with SFC. The radio program was used as a conservation tool to engage communities beyond the conservation education and outreach programs carried out in the past. Sixteen pre-recorded episodes in the Iban language were broadcasted between August 2011 and January 2012 via Radio Television Malaysia (Iban Services Section).
  • Orang-utan plot nest count survey in Ulu Sungai Menyang (USM) and Engkari – Telaus Community Conservation Landscape (ETCCL).
  • Orang-utan rapid assessment for Heart of Borneo program twice in Ulu Sungai Menyang and once in both Ulu Katibas and Engkari – Telaus.
  • Orang-utan rapid assessment in Batang Lemanak – Batang Skrang of Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Law and Enforcement Technique Workshop for Miri – Bintulu Region 2015.

 

On-going WCS activities

  • Attending discussions on management and alternative sustainable livelihood activities with stakeholders living around the larger BANP-LEWS landscape including Ulu Sungai Menyang. The aim of these discussions is to increase protection for the orang-utans while allowing the local communities to thrive. 
  • Implementing the Orang-utan Strategic Action Plan for Sarawak (OUSAP) with SFC, FDS and MRPE (Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment) (2009-ongoing).
  • Orang-utan rapid assessment beyond the BALE Landscape (Batang Ai National Park – Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary) at Ulu Sebuyau National Park (USNP), Sedilu National Park (SNP), Gunung Lesung National Park (GLNP), Sabal Forest Reserve (SFR), Bungo Range National Park (BRNP) and the Proposed Klingkang National Park (Prop. KNP).

 

Future Directions

Work with authorities to strengthen the enforcement and monitoring of illegal wildlife activities through Management Information System (MIST), and other relevant activities. MIST is a management tool developed to assist decision makers in managing protected areas.

 

Acknowledgements

The orang-utan nest count surveys and conservation education programs were financially supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Great Ape Conservation Fund (USFWS GACF), Margo Marsh Biodiversity Foundation (MMBF), Whitley Fund for Nature, Arcus Foundation, Crest Megaway, and Kathy Ruttenberg. Additional funds were provided by the Orang-utan Project Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Way Out Experiences (M) Sdn Bhd) and Borneo Adventure. In-kind contribution for accommodation at the operational bases, boats and additional manpower were provided by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the conservation partner for this project. Additional off-road transportation was provided by Hariwood Sdn. Bhd. Administrative support was provided by the District Offices as well as District Police Offices of Lubok Antu, Kanowit and Song. Permits to conduct the surveys, past and present were provided by the Forest Department of Sarawak (FDS).

 

 

Reference:

Wich, S.A., Meijaard, E., Marshall, A.J., Husson, S. Ancrenaz, M., Lacy, R.C., van Schaik, C.P., Sugardjito, J., Simorangkir, T., Traylor-Holzer, K., Doughty, M., Supriatna, J., Dennis, R., Gumal, M., Knott, C.D. & Singleton, I. (2008). Distribution and conservation status of the orang-utan (Pongo spp.) on Borneo and Sumatra: how many remain? Oryx 42(3): 329-339