In the face of the ongoing destruction of their ancient rainforest habitat, orangutans are showing signs of adaptation.

Researchers working in the East Kalimantan region of Borneo have captured footage showing how orangutans are taking to travelling on the ground more and more, even making use of the same logging roads that facilitate the removal of their home forests.

The team’s findings suggest a travel strategy in orangutans that may help them adapt to their changing environment, though it is not known if their terrestrial travel is opportunistic or a desperate measure.

Integrated Conservation NGO founder Brent Loken heeds caution: “We must be careful not to reinforce the notion that orangutans can survive in any human-altered landscape. They still need trees and lots of them, and the protection of Borneo’s remaining forests should continue to be of the highest priority for Indonesia and the rest of the world.”



The above piece is based on materials provided by the Simon Fraser University.

Brent Loken, Chandradewana Boer, Nunuk Kasyanto. (2015). Opportunistic behaviour or desperate measure? Logging impacts may only partially explain terrestriality in the Bornean orang-utan Pongo pygmaeus morio. Oryx, 1 DOI:10.1017/S0030605314000969

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