A way out for Endengered Borneo elephants

Mon, 2011-09-12 15:33 by MacieTaylor · Forum/category:
Corridor2

Sabah’s many endangered species, like the Bornean elephant along with the orangutan, are finally being helped to safe havens via “corridors” through vast oil palm plantations which have encroached into their home.
With all the habitats of the mammals becoming increasingly fragmented as a result of rapid clearing of forests for oil palm along with other industrial tree plantations, animal corridors linking these phones untouched forests could be the only way to ensure their survival.
Hawaii Wildlife Department announced the setting of the “elephant corridor” within the Melapi village in Sukau, Kinabatangan, that is you will find an endangered population from the animals now trapped through the ever-expanding plantations.
Department director Dr Laurentius N Ambu said in the statement that this corridor had finally becoming reality with the help of two private companies.
The newly created corridor stretches for 1km and measures about 50m in width and straddles the boundary of a wildlife viewing lodge along with a plantation. It's going to allow around 200 trapped elephants within the lower Kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary to go to new foraging areas.
The corridor is a component of the elephants’ ancestral migration route containing been disrupted lately on account of deforestation.
The time and effort was coordinated with the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) and also the Sabah Wildlife Department to address and minimise the impact of the previous large-scale oil palm plantation development and unsustainable logging practices.
Raymond Alfred, BCT head of conservation and research, warned that fragmentation of the animal habitat poses an integral threat on the elephant population in Sabah.
Determined by his previous research, the density of the elephant in lower Kinabatangan is estimated to be over two elephants per km2 as you move the equilibrium density in the elephant ranges from 0.5 to a single.5 elephants per km2.
According to this, the low Kinabatangan range is probably not a viable habitat currently for the elephants since density of elephants in this area is 2.15 elephants per km2.
Human-wildlife conflicts
Alfred said linking habitat with forest corridors will enhance the habitat viability; however, he added that without strategic intervention and conservation planning, the elephant’s population will probably be further fragmented and isolated.
Population isolation can make the species more vulnerable to genetic drift and inbreeding, thus the threat towards the Bornean elephant becomes worse due to surge in the incident of human-wildlife conflicts on this corridor.
The orangutan population was also observed to possess declined drastically in Sabah, specifically in the bottom Kinabatangan.
One of many key reasons the orangutan human population are declining could be the loss and fragmentation of habitat due to the conversion of degraded forests into large-scale plantations.
In south-east Sabah, 30% of the key habitats have been changed into other land use since 1970s. Let's assume that the last forest habitat supported a low density (0.75 orangutan per km2), the decline of the orangutan population inside the study area is calculated at 150 orangutan each day the past 30 years.
A survey carried out in 2003 and 2010 by Dr Marc Ancrenaz, director from the Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation project or Hutan, and Alfred respectively showed that the orangutan population in lower Kinabatangan has declined from 1,100 to 700.
Several “bridges” happen to be jointly constructed by BCT, Hutan, Danau Girang Field Centre and other NGOs in lower Kinabatangan allowing the river-crossings with the orangutans.
Experts hope that it's going to assist the orangutan population in order to meet and breed from the fragmented forest ecosystem.

Key stakeholders

The goal is to connect the orangutan population with the other large populations from the Deramakot Forest Reserve along with the Malua Forest Reserve.
The present network of protected areas (conservation area, protection area and virgin jungle reserves) established in commercial forest reserves is unlikely to support and gaze after viable populations of orangutans ultimately, primarily since most of the protected reserves, especially virgin jungle reserves, aren't suitable habitats for orangutans.
For example, less commercial (profitable) forests are schedule as conservation zones in commercial forests. They are generally positioned in hilly, mountainous terrain and don't provide suitable habitat for orangutans. The hope could be that the implementation of sustainable forest management will address the conservation needs with the orangutan.
BCT , a non-profit NGO established in 2006, offers a platform to the key stakeholders (palm oil industries, forest industries, local communities as well as other corporate sectors) to function together for biodiversity conservation, to support the implementation of the state’s species action plans plus the Sabah development corridor.
Working closely with Sabah Wildlife Department, BCT will initiate the Sabah Mega Ecological Corridor Programme, by the end on this year. The idea is to identify and determine the strategies that could effectively bring about improving and protecting the ecological corridors.
This project may also explore a conservation mechanism that is duplicated in other areas for example Tabin-Kulamba-Trusan Kinabatangan, Ulu Kalumpang-Ulu Segama, Kalabakan-Ulu Segama, Kalabakan-Kalimantan (Indonesia) so as to secure ecological corridors.
Alfred said that the past 15 to 20 years, many conservation activities happen to be completed by several NGOs inside state, to discover the ecological status of the species.
However, only a few with the efforts were able to turn back threats or minimise the impact of large-scale oil palm plantation development and unsustainable logging practices.
At this time, all results from previous researches are used as a baseline plus as a guideline in implementing the species plan of action to guarantee the conservation requirements for orangutans, elephants and rhinoceros may be addressed.
The project is seeking potential conservation partners (key players in oil palm plantations and industrial tree plantation including other corporate sectors) as well as co-operation from relevant government departments and the private sector, to ensure all conservation requirements for the key ecological corridors in Sabah are highlighted, addressed and implemented using the key stakeholders.