Palangkaraya, Indonesia
Palangkaraya, Indonesia

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Boyd N.S.,Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation | Phillipps Q.,Borneo Research Consultants Ltd. | Fischer J.H.,Victoria University of Wellington
Kukila | Year: 2016

Here we present the details of a number of sightings of "spectacled flowerpecker" (species Novum) undescribed in Batikap Hill Forest Reserve, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, between January and November 2015. This was the first sighting of this species undescribed to Indonesia, We provide information about fur, vocalization and behavior of eating here, which is expected to produce more records, and the formal description of the undescribed species.

Meijaard E.,People and Nature Consulting International | Meijaard E.,Australian National University | Mengersen K.,Queensland University of Technology | Buchori D.,The Nature Conservancy Indonesia Program | And 13 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Species conservation is difficult. Threats to species are typically high and immediate. Effective solutions for counteracting these threats, however, require synthesis of high quality evidence, appropriately targeted activities, typically costly implementation, and rapid re-evaluation and adaptation. Conservation management can be ineffective if there is insufficient understanding of the complex ecological, political, socio-cultural, and economic factors that underlie conservation threats. When information about these factors is incomplete, conservation managers may be unaware of the most urgent threats or unable to envision all consequences of potential management strategies. Conservation research aims to address the gap between what is known and what knowledge is needed for effective conservation. Such research, however, generally addresses a subset of the factors that underlie conservation threats, producing a limited, simplistic, and often biased view of complex, real world situations. A combination of approaches is required to provide the complete picture necessary to engage in effective conservation. Orangutan conservation (Pongo spp.) offers an example: standard conservation assessments employ survey methods that focus on ecological variables, but do not usually address the socio-cultural factors that underlie threats. Here, we evaluate a complementary survey method based on interviews of nearly 7,000 people in 687 villages in Kalimantan, Indonesia. We address areas of potential methodological weakness in such surveys, including sampling and questionnaire design, respondent biases, statistical analyses, and sensitivity of resultant inferences. We show that interview-based surveys can provide cost-effective and statistically robust methods to better understand poorly known populations of species that are relatively easily identified by local people. Such surveys provide reasonably reliable estimates of relative presence and relative encounter rates of such species, as well as quantifying the main factors that threaten them. We recommend more extensive use of carefully designed and implemented interview surveys, in conjunction with more traditional field methods. © 2011 Meijaard et al.

Meijaard E.,People and Nature Consulting International | Meijaard E.,University of Queensland | Meijaard E.,Australian National University | Buchori D.,The Nature Conservancy Indonesia Forest Program | And 33 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Human-orangutan conflict and hunting are thought to pose a serious threat to orangutan existence in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo. No data existed prior to the present study to substantiate these threats. We investigated the rates, spatial distribution and causes of conflict and hunting through an interview-based survey in the orangutan's range in Kalimantan, Indonesia. Between April 2008 and September 2009, we interviewed 6983 respondents in 687 villages to obtain socio-economic information, assess knowledge of local wildlife in general and orangutan encounters specifically, and to query respondents about their knowledge on orangutan conflicts and killing, and relevant laws. This survey revealed estimated killing rates of between 750 and 1800 animals killed in the last year, and between 1950 and 3100 animals killed per year on average within the lifetime of the survey respondents. These killing rates are higher than previously thought and are high enough to pose a serious threat to the continued existence of orangutans in Kalimantan. Importantly, the study contributes to our understanding of the spatial variation in threats, and the underlying causes of those threats, which can be used to facilitate the development of targeted conservation management. © 2011 Meijaard et al.

PubMed | Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, University of Zürich, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Rutgers University and 2 more.
Type: | Journal: American journal of primatology | Year: 2016

The spatial and temporal variation in food abundance has strong effects on wildlife feeding and nutrition. This variation is exemplified by the peatland forests of Central Kalimantan, which are characterized by unpredictable fruiting fluctuations, relatively low levels of fruit availability, and low fruit periods (<3% of trees fruiting) that can last nearly a year. Challenged by these environments, large, arboreal frugivores like orangutans must periodically rely on non-preferred, lower-quality foods to meet their nutritional needs. We examined variation in nutrient intake among age-sex classes and seasons over a 7-year period at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in Central Kalimantan. We conducted 2,316 full-day focal follows on 62 habituated orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). We found differences in total energy and macronutrient intake across age-sex classes, controlling for metabolic body mass. Intake of both total energy and macronutrients varied with fruit availability, and preference of dietary items increased with their nutritional quality. Foraging-related variables, such as day journey length, travel time, and feeding time, also varied among age-sex classes and with fruit availability. Our results add to the growing body of literature suggesting that great variation in foraging strategies exists among species, populations, and age-sex classes and in response to periods of resource scarcity.The spatial and temporal variation in food abundance has strong effects on wildlife feeding and nutrition. Here we present the first long term study of the effects of variation in fruit availability and age/sex class on nutritional ecology of wild Bornean orangutans. We examined variation in nutrient intake of wild orangutans in living in a peat swamp habitat over a 7-year period at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in Central Kalimantan. We conducted 2,316 full-day focal follows on 62 habituated orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). We found differences in total energy and macronutrient intake across age-sex classes, controlling for metabolic body mass. Intake of both total energy and macronutrients varied with fruit availability, and preference of dietary items increased with their nutritional quality. Foraging-related variables, such as day journey length, travel time, and feeding time, also varied among age-sex classes and with fruit availability. Our results add to the growing body of literature suggesting that great variation in foraging strategies exists among species, populations, and age-sex classes and in response to periods of resource scarcity.

News Article | December 20, 2016

The news about endangered species tends to be pretty bleak. That definitely proved true in 2016, but the past year also saw quite a few successes. Here are some of the best news stories from 2016, as chosen from the “Extinction Countdown” archives and by experts and conservation groups around the globe. The illegal wildlife trade affects hundreds of species around the world and has put quite a few on the fast track toward extinction. Luckily, several of them received important support at this fall’s meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which banned or limited international trade for several imperiled species, including pangolins, the African grey parrot, and several kinds of sharks. “Almost all of the decisions were really based on science,” says Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “You have to celebrate when that happens.” Of course, what makes the CITES action good news is that we’re stepping up to help species that have become critically imperiled. “It’s good news that governments are recognizing the risks these species are in,” Lieberman says. “It’s bad news because the situation for these species is really horrible.” Outside of CITES, elephants also got a boost when the U.S. adopted tighter regulations in the trade of ivory. “The new regulations will make it much harder for criminals to use the United States as a staging ground for illegal ivory trade,” Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF, said this past June. “They also send a strong signal to the international community that the U.S. is committed to doing its part to save elephants in the wild.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had a number of Endangered Species Act success stories this year, but the best was probably April's announcement that three subspecies of island fox native to California's Channel Islands had recovered and are now no longer considered to be at risk. This marked the fasted recovery under the ESA to date and reflects 12 years of intense conservation efforts by several dedicated partners on the federal, state and local level. Some of the biggest species and most recognizable species on the planet had a few minor victories in 2016. Most recently, the recognition that giraffes are an endangered species made news around the world. That might seem like bad news, but the public outcry may be what we need to finally get conservation efforts moving in the right direction. Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office in Beijing, says one of the best stories of the year is that giant panda populations improved enough that the IUCN Red List now considers the iconic animals to be no longer endangered. (They’re now listed as vulnerable to extinction.) Others have expressed worry that this categorization change will lessen our ability to protect pandas moving forward, but it’s still pretty good news. Orangutans had a bad year (more on that in our “worst of 2016” article), but there were bright spots. “The best orangutan conservation story of 2016 is the successful continuation of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation's release program,” says Richard Zimmerman, executive director of Orangutan Outreach. “They've now released 250 orangutans into safe, secure forests. The majority of these orangutans were rescued orphans who were rehabilitated over many years. Due to a lack of available forest they were forced to remain in cages and wait to be released.” Several other rescue and release expeditions in other locations helped even more of these imperiled apes, although Zimmerman noted that “there are still hundreds of orangutans waiting to be released and we expect the expeditions to continue in coming years. These releases are quite expensive and require a lot of coordination on the ground.” Finally, experts from the NRDC pointed to a “decades-in-the-making breakthrough agreement on sonar safeguards for whales and our oceans.” With so many cetacean species in decline, this easing of at least one of the pressures affecting them can only help. Our feathered friends got several bits of good news this year. Most notably, five captive-born Hawaiian crows—a species that went extinct in the wild decades ago—made their triumphant return to a protected Hawaiian park a few days ago. Expect to hear a lot more about this story in the coming year. Another Hawaiian species, the Akikiki, has been immortalized in space, with an asteroid permanently named after the tiny endangered birds. That may not have directly helped efforts to conserve the species, but it did bring them international (if not interstellar) recognition. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, every single kakapo (a large, flightless, critically endangered parrot) has had its genome sequenced, an effort that will help to increase the species’ population in the coming decades. (This year’s record breeding season also gave kakapo numbers a much-needed boost.) A few smaller creatures belong on our list, as well. “This year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally took bees seriously,” says Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees received endangered species status, and similar protection has been proposed for the rusty-patched bumblebee. “That’s pretty big,” Black says. “We’ve never had a bee listed before.” Amphibians, many of which are being wiped out by the deadly chytrid fungus, had at least one success story this year. “I was really heartened by the study that Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs are holding their own against the chytrid fungus,” says Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity. Meanwhile, desert tortoises and other species benefitted from the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which promoted clean energy development in the California desert while protecting local wildlife. “This plan will enable us to combat climate change, which is a threat to wildlife, habitat and landscapes worldwide, while preserving important habitats,” said Kim Delfino, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “This is a blueprint for other states, the nation and the world to consider as we all work together to fight climate change and race against extinction.” On a broader level, many species benefitted from efforts to preserve entire ecosystems. “Globally, protected areas continue to expand, both on land and especially in the ocean,” says Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation at Duke University and president of Saving Species. “There is widespread agreement that these are the best solution to protect biodiversity.” Pimm reports that his own team’s efforts are paying off. “We don’t help our donors buy a lot of land, but we help them buy land strategically.  We are now connecting formerly isolated fragments of habitat to create large, continuous habitats in Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, India, and Sumatra.” Obviously there were other endangered species successes over the course of 2016. What would you add to this list? Add your comments below, or discuss things on Twitter under the hashtag #extinction2016.

News Article | November 4, 2015

The world’s only wild orangutans — already besieged by logging, hunting, pet trading and the steady expansion of palm-oil plantations — are now threatened by forest fires that have burned for months on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in southeast Asia. In the toxic smoke and haze, locals and researchers are scrambling to protect the estimated 50,000 remaining orangutans that live only on those two islands. Fires erupt every year in Indonesia during the dry season, as farmers, plantation owners and others deliberately burn forest to clear land or to settle territorial disputes. But this year’s El Niño weather pattern, combined with a legacy of land-management practices that have dried the soil and degraded vast swathes of peat-swamp forest, turned this burning season into an environmental catastrophe that has destroyed more than 2 million hectares of forest throughout Indonesia, to which Sumatra and much of Borneo belong. Since late summer, teams of researchers have headed out from the city of Palangkaraya in Borneo to find and fight new blazes. Some patrol the rivers and others head into the forest, where extinguishing the flames can require drilling more than 20 metres down to reach the water table — tough, gruelling work that is carried out amid tropical heat and in a persistent, menacing orange haze. One day in October, Simon Husson, director of the UK-based Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, deployed a drone at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s centre for orangutan rescue and rehabilitation near Palangkaraya. “Eyes in the sky are a huge help,” he says. “On the ground, you’re in choking smoke and the haze is severely restricting visibility.” As the drone rose above the smoggy blanket, its camera glimpsed a new fire burning deep in the forest. The fire was remote enough not to threaten the orphaned and injured orangutans being readied for reintroduction to the forest, “but you can’t help thinking about the wild ones out there”, Husson says. Husson and his colleagues have temporarily abandoned their normal research activities in the 6,000-square-kilometre Sabangau Forest, which is home not just to orangutans but also to rare Bornean white-bearded gibbons, sun bears and pangolins, to help local fire-fighting teams with cash and personnel. “Not only is [research] pretty unimportant right now,” he says, “it’s basically impossible to study the orangutans in the canopy as we can’t see them for the smoke.” Peat fires devastate orangutan populations primarily by destroying crucial habitat, but the animals are also susceptible to the same types of smoke- and haze-induced respiratory problems as humans. The charismatic arboreal apes are already endangered throughout their range; their population is estimated to have declined by 78% from more than 230,000 a century ago. “Over half the world’s orangutans live in peat-swamp forests, and every one of these peatlands in Borneo right now is on fire, somewhere,” Husson says. Undisturbed peat forests are actually incredibly fire resistant, says Susan Page, a geographer at the University of Leicester, UK, who studies peatlands in southeast Asia, because the swamps are damp enough to make ignition difficult. But, unfortunately, large tracts of Borneo’s peatland are anything but undisturbed. In 1996, Indonesia’s then-president Suharto launched the Mega Rice Project, which tried to transform 1 million hectares of Bornean peatland into rice paddies. Draining the peat was essential for the plan, and despite the fact that no rice was ever harvested, canals that were cut through the forests have been draining water from the peat ever since. The infernos in Indonesia have climate implications as well. Normally, Borneo’s peat forests are efficient carbon stores, holding tonnes of organic matter in layers of compressed plant material that can be more than 15 metres thick. But when that peat burns, the accumulated carbon is released. This year, the fires have already released more than 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — more than Japan’s annual carbon emissions. Since September, carbon emissions due to the fires have exceeded the daily production of the United States on at least 38 days, prompting one conservation scientist to call this year’s fires the “biggest environmental crime of the twenty-first century”. The situation is unlikely to get better without an extended period of rain or a serious commitment from the Indonesian government. If the El Niño-driven drought persists, as some climate models predict, this year’s fire season could last well into 2016. “Severe fires did not occur before there was intensive land-use development,” Page says. “Solutions will require strong political leadership and investment.”

Dench R.,Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation | Dench R.,Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology | Sulistyo F.,Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation | Fahroni A.,Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation | Philippa J.,Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2015

The tuberculin skin test (TST) has been the mainstay of tuberculosis (TB) testing in primates for decades, but its interpretation in orangutans (Pongo spp.) is challenging, because many animals react strongly, without evidence of infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. One explanation is cross-reactivity with environmental nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). The use of a comparative TST (CTST), comparing reactivity to avian (representing NTM) and bovine (representing tuberculous mycobacteria) tuberculins aids in distinguishing cross-reactivity due to sensitization by NTM from shared antigens. The specificity of the TST can be increased with the use of CTST. We considered three interpretations of the TST in rehabilitant Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) using avian purified protein derivative (APPD; 25,000 IU/ml) and two concentrations of bovine purified protein derivative (BPPD; 100,000 and 32,500 IU/ml). The tests were evaluated for their ability to identify accurately seven orangutans previously diagnosed with and treated for TB from a group of presumed negative individuals (n = 288 and n = 161 for the two respective BPPD concentrations). BPPD at 32,500 IU/ml had poor diagnostic capacity, whereas BPPD at 100,000 IU/ml performed better. The BPPD-only interpretation had moderate sensitivity (57%) and poor specificity (40%) and accuracy (41%). The comparative interpretation at 72 hr had similar sensitivity (57%) but improved specificity (95%) and accuracy (94%). However, best results were obtained by a comparative interpretation incorporating the 48- and 72-hr scores, which had good sensitivity (86%), specificity (95%) and accuracy (95%). These data reinforce recommendations that a CTST be used in orangutans and support the use of APPD at 25,000 IU/ml and BPPD at 100,000 IU/ml. The highest score at each site from the 48- and 72-hr checks should be considered the result for that tuberculin. If the bovine result is greater than the avian result, the animal should be considered a TB suspect. © Copyright 2015 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

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