200 orangutan found living outside Batang Ai National Park

200 orangutan found living outside Batang Ai National Park

Borneo Adventure was proud to be part of a recent orangutan survey that confirmed the presence of a population of up to 200 orangutans in Ulu Sungai Menyang, Sarawak, Malaysia. Ulu Sungai Menyang is situated between the Upper Ai River, the Indonesian border and the Batang Ai Lake. The area is located near Borneo Adventure’s Nanga Sumpa Lodge.

The local Iban population, tour guides and guests staying at Borneo Adventure’s Nanga Sumpa Lodge and Lubok Kasai Jungle Camp have reported sightings of orangutan in the area. However, this is the first time that researchers have officially recorded and established the presence of orangutan in Ulu Sungai Menyang.

The surveys were conducted in July 2012 and February 2013. The research was a collaborative effort involving Borneo Adventure, the Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, WCS Malaysia and local communities. Borneo Adventure was happy to provide financial and logistical support for the orangutan research.

The aim of the research was to detect orangutan presence in areas outside Sarawak’s current network of protected areas.  The population of wild orangutans in Sarawak was previously believed to be around 1,300 individuals, with 95% of the State’s orangutans found in the Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary.

Orangutan presence at Ulu Sungai Menyang was determined through the identification of nests detected along survey routes. The research teams walked a total of 248 kilometres of survey transects and over 900 orangutan nests were found during the course of the study. Aerial surveys were also undertaken.

Based on the evidence of new nests, actual sightings and vocal records, orangutans were found to be present throughout the area surveyed.  Using orangutan density estimates from studies in similar forest in Batang Ai National Park, the estimated population of orangutan in Ulu Sungai Menyang could be as high as 200 individuals.

This is fantastic news for Sarawak. Ulu Sungai Menyang represents extremely High Conservation Value Forest and with such a high population of orangutans it is clear that this area of rainforest is crucial to orangutan conservation in Sarawak.

Finding a ‘new’ population of orangutans is just the start of a long journey. With this evidence, efforts can now begin on conserving the 14,000 hectares of forest that we now know is prime orangutan habitat. Borneo Adventure is in discussions with the local community, relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to see how we can participate and contribute to efforts to conserve the Ulu Sungai Menyang forest. We will also be adding some new treks and tours so that local communities can continue to benefit from low impact orangutan tourism and other ecotourism activities in the wider Ulu Ai area. More news on this in the weeks and months to come.

Map showing the results of the orangutan nest surveys in Ulu Sungai Menyang.

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