Illegal Logging Could Push Orangutans to the Brink of Extinction

Orangutans could be wiped out within 20 years if illegal logging continues unabated on two islands in Indonesia and Malaysia, the only spots where the animals live, a researcher warned yesterday. As an example of troubling habitat destruction, anthropologist Cheryl Knott of Harvard University pointed to loggers’ infiltration of Gunung Palung National Park on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, which is home to about 2,500 orangutans, or 10 percent of their total population. By some estimates, more than 80 percent of orangutan habitat has already been destroyed. Other wildlife experts in the region don’t believe the apes’ situation is as dire as Knott suggests, but they concur that more sustainable forestry practices are essential to the species’ ultimate survival.