At the rate oil palm plantations are mushrooming in Sabah, Borneo's proboscis monkeys will soon be lost to our children.
KINABATANGAN: The population of proboscis monkeys in Borneo is declining and its because of the fragmentation of its habitat and oil palm cultivation.
A study by researchers and conservationist in Sabah, Kalimantan and United Kingdom noted that if nothing is done to reconnect the isolated population and the degradation of their habitat, the monkey population would successively reduce over the next 50 years.
Their finding were part of a study carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Cardiff University, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), Oxford Brookes University and researchers from Indonesia.
The study was published in the scientific journal Endangered Species Research.
The study noted that in Sabah only 15% of the proboscis monkey groups were in fully protected areas.
“Proboscis monkeys are mainly confined to peat and freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forests, and lowland dipterocarp (riverine) forests.
“These are habitats which are the most threatened ones in Borneo due to logging and conversion of land for agriculture.
“The remaining populations are divided almost equally between residing outside of the reserve network completely or within partially protected forest reserves, where different levels of extraction are permitted,” said Benoit Goossens, director of the DGFC and a co-author on the paper.
Similar findings in three areas
According to Danica Stark from DGFC and Cardiff University, who was the lead author for the research, the studies focused on three groups – two in kalimantan and one in Sabah.
“The Sabah population lives in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS).We ran management scenarios to determine their (habitat) influence on the declining population trends.
“The conservation strategies evaluated in our study were: (1) eliminating hunting; (2) eliminating fires; (3) eliminating deforestation; (4) reducing deforestation; (5) implementing reforestation programmes and (6) reconnecting sub-populations.
“Our model used current population surveys and predicted a decrease of about 1,000 individuals within the next 50 years (or about 20 individuals/year) in the LKWS, ” Stark said.
Similar findings were also contained in a research by the NGO Hutan.
Goossens said that it is extremely likely that if nothing is done to stop deforestation and if no effort is taken to reconnect forest fragments along the main river and its tributaries, the proboscis monkey population will be in great danger of extinction.
Quick measures needed
Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu while lauding governments and local reforestation initiatives organised and implemented in and around the Kinabatangan region, said there was an urgent need to “identify the severity of riverine forest”
“There has been a strong conservation presence in the LKWS in the past decade.
“However, there are too many narrow strips of forest along the Kinabatangan which are not sufficient and can result in the death of monkeys and their feeding trees due to over-exploitation.
“We need to identify the severity of riverine forest which have been converted into plantations and restore these forests.
“And we need to act now. We need to increase the reconnection between forest fragments and reestablish large strips of riparian forest along the main river and its tributaries if we want the proboscis monkey to continue striving in Sabah and attract tourists,” said Laurentius.