The Malaysian Palm Oil Green Conservation Foundation (MPOGCF), an agency under the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities (KPK), has allocated RM1.2 million to finance a study of the Orang Utan population in Sabah for a period of two years, starting this year.
KPK secretary-general Datuk Mad Zaidi Mohd Karli @ Sukari said the study was important to obtain the latest number of the Orang Utan population.
“The study will be carried out soon, to obtain facts related to the protected animal, which have become iconic in Sabah, such as their activities and locations.
“Even though there have been various studies conducted in the past, we will conduct this study, and we want to see how the population trend is. Hence, when a comprehensive study is conducted, we have data which can be shared,” he said.
He said this after officiating International Orang Utan Day, themed ‘Mereka Juga Warga Malaysia’, observed on Aug 19 every year, at Zoo Negara, today.
The International Orang Utan Day observation is a continuation of the RM1.1 million sponsorship by the country's oil palm industry, through the MPOGCF, to fund the upgrade of the Borneo Orang Utan Exhibition at the Zoo Negara, last year.
“The purpose of the International Orang Utan Day observation today is to inform everyone that we are not only giving priority to the oil palm industry but also preserving the biodiversity of wildlife, including the Orang Utan.
“We want to counter claims by outsiders that the oil palm industry is an industry which threatens wildlife,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Mad Zaidi said that MPOGCF, a foundation under the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), also called on all Malaysians to support Orang Utan conservation efforts by prioritising sustainable palm products, which are recognised by the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification.
“The biggest threat to the Orang Utan population is poaching, and the Borneo Orang Utan is categorised as a critically endangered animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated population of 104,700,” he said.
Mad Zaidi said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report in 2019, based on a survey of Orang Utan nests between May 2014 and March 2017, found that the Orang Utan population in Sabah had been stable for 15 years.
According to him, the findings of the same study, however, found that the Borneo Orang Utan population in the forest surrounded by oil palm plantations showed a declining trend.
He said that based on the findings of the WWF study, the Malaysian oil palm industry, through the MPOGCF, carried out several conservation activities for the endangered animals.
“The programmes include planting a million trees for the rehabilitation of the Orang Utan habitat, involving an area of 2,500 hectares in the Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve in Lahad Datu.
“We also fund the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU), to rescue and move Orang Utan to a safe habitat. A total of 61 Orang Utan were rescued by WRU between 2010 and 2020,” he said.
Mad Zaidi said all these efforts demonstrated the commitment of the country's oil palm industry to increase the Orang Utan population, with the support of the government through the KPK and the MPOGCF.
“The efforts show that Malaysia's oil palm industry, which is the main sector in the country's agricommodity, with a trade value of RM268.1 billion in 2022, is being transformed into a sustainable industry, friendly to the environment and wildlife, in addition to having the least impact on the natural ecosystem,” he said.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency