06 Jan '12, 5pm

Green Blog: A Mini-Eden for Endangered Orangutans

All life is precious, but the demise of the orangutan hits especially close to home. One of our closest relatives — human and orangutan genomes are 97 percent identical, a study published last year in Nature found — their population has dwindled to somewhere around 50,000. Their range, once spanning much of Southeast Asia, has shrunk to mainly just a couple of islands in Indonesia: Borneo, home to Pongo pygmaeus , and Sumatra, where its critically endangered counterpart, Pongo abelii , hangs on with a population of only around 7,000. All great apes are threatened, but the orangutan — in the Malay language, the word means “person of the forest” — is going extinct. The main issue that orangutans face is the loss of their tropical rain forest habitat. In Indonesia, much of it has been erased by palm oil plantations. Illegal logging and gold and zircon mining are other threats...

Full article: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/in-a-mini-eden-...

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