People, Environment

Orangutan Population Up Despite Threats

Orangutan Population Up Despite ThreatsOrangutan Population Up Despite Threats

There are more Sumatran orangutans in the wild than previously thought, according to a new survey. The latest estimate puts the population at about 14,600 - more than twice the previous figure — 6,600, based on data from 2004. Ecologists say the rise is not due to population growth but because some apes were missed in past surveys. “The species remains at serious threat from poaching and loss of forests,” they report in Science Advances, according to the BBC. Orangutans are the world’s largest tree-climbing mammal - and Asia’s only great ape. Once found across South East Asia, today they are confined to two islands, Borneo and Sumatra. Their forest habitat is rapidly disappearing, putting their future in jeopardy. In the new survey in 2015, orangutans were found in unexpected places, including at higher altitudes in the mountains, forests recovering from logging and areas west of the Toba Lake that had not been previously examined. “It is very important that these findings are not interpreted as suggesting that numbers have increased, nor that their range has expanded,” the group reports.