In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, it is estimated that there are approximately 2,000 orangutans in the wild out of about 100,000 within the island of Borneo (Figure 4). Close to 80% of the state’s population can be found in the core areas of the Batang Ai National Park and the Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (known hereafter as Batang Ai-Lanjak-Entimau) within an area of about 2,000 square kilometres. The Batang Ai-Lanjak-Entimau Landscape is contiguous to the Betung Kerihun National Park in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, where there is an estimated population size of 1,790 orangutans. Although together they represent only approximately 4% of the Bornean orangutan population, it is nevertheless the largest contiguous protected habitat for the Northwest Bornean orangutan from the subspecies Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus. In 2016, the threat level for Bornean orangutans was upgraded to ‘Critically Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The alarming upgrade was due to increased threats of habitat degradation and forest loss as well as hunting. Thus, there is an urgent need to ascertain current population trends and reassess threat levels to strategically decide on priority actions that need to be applied within Batang Ai-Lanjak-Entimau and subsequently Betung Kerihun.

What we do

Since 2003, WCS has conducted orangutan nest count surveys at Batang Ai-Lanjak-Entimau to estimate the current abundances of orangutan surrounding the study sites. In addition, WCS has conducted an orangutan rapid assessment for the Heart of Borneo program twice in Ulu Sungai Menyang and once in both Ulu Katibas and Engkari-Telaus.

WCS works closely with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Forest Department of Sabah and the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources to implement the Orangutan Strategic Action Plan for Sarawak. We work with authorities to strengthen the enforcement and monitoring of illegal wildlife activities through SMART, and other relevant activities. SMART is a management tool developed to assist decision makers in managing conservation areas. In the future, we hope to explore the development of cross-border enforcement support with Indonesia.

Discussions have also been held on the management and alternative sustainable livelihood activities with stakeholders living around the larger landscape including Ulu Sungai Menyang. The aim of these discussions is to increase protection for the orangutans while allowing the local communities to thrive.

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