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Max Plank Evolutionary Institute •

One of the biggest fans of the Sumatran orangutan was Terry Pratchett, the famous fantasy writer.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – There are only two orangutan species in the world, one of which is critically endangered. Or so the experts believed until they did a total count of the population. It seems that the Sumatran orangutans have a larger population than expected, but that doesn’t mean that they are out of harm’s way. Severe deforestation is threatening their natural environment, and the number of individuals is still declining rapidly.

The latest nose count revealed that there are approximately 14,600 Sumatran orangutans on the island. It may sound that they have plenty of specimens, but the orangutans are native to the northern part of the Indonesian island, and they cannot be relocated.

Even though the Sumatran orangutans have a larger population than expected, they are still severely threatened by deforestation and poaching. The beautiful, fire-kissed apes are being slowly pushed into extinction because the Indonesian authorities want to expand agricultural practices on the island.

And according to the researchers, if the current forest loss rate will continue, more than 4500 orangutan individuals will die by 2030. With this in mind, scientists are urging the local authorities to implement protection measures for the red-haired mammals.

The complete nose count was conducted because the researchers need an accurate estimation of the size of the Sumatran orangutan population to plan conservation measures. In order to obtain a result as precise as possible, the team of scientists that participated in the nose count conducted various surveys.

In the end, they counted over 3000 nests on a 300 kilometers territory. According to the calculation, this means that there are roughly 14.600 Sumatran orangutans in the Indonesian forests. The previous estimate was of 6600 individuals.

This remarkable difference was not given by a spike in the number of the apes, but because last counts did not include certain areas like logged forests, some areas situated on the west side of Lake Toba and the red-haired mammals that lived at higher elevations.

But the news that Sumatran orangutans have a larger population than expected is only good until the researchers present their estimates for the future numbers of individuals belonging to the native Indonesian species.

According to their calculations, the orangutans will dramatically decrease in numbers if the current deforestation plans are respected. The fire-kissed apes have very few natural predators, but, unfortunately for them, humans are among them.

Both the foreign researchers from the Max Plank Evolutionary Institute and the local Indonesian scientists are fighting against the construction of new buildings that will significantly affect the apes.

Sumatran orangutans have a larger population than expected, but it seems that it will not last long without serious conservational efforts.

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