Orangutans are an endangered species with more than 80% of their former habitat now lost. In Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo, many orangutan populations exist outside of primary forest reserves. The Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (KOCP) was established by HUTAN to achieve long-term viability of orangutan populations and support local development compatible with habitat and wildlife conservation.
The project studies and protects important secondary forest habitat in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and sheds light on how orangutans cope with changes in their natural environment. All KOCP activities (research, forest protection, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and education) actively involve local communities, and related conservation strategies contribute directly to local social and economic development. The focus is on finding realistic solutions to enhance the long-term survival of orangutan and other wildlife in the area, and ensure that community members derive tangible benefits from the preservation of local natural resources.
The program employs more than forty local Malaysians who have been trained to collect data, monitor reserves for illegal logging and hunting activities, teach environmental education, lead eco-tours and participate in reforestation activities. The community-owned and managed eco tourism company “Red Ape Encounters” directly benefits local people directly and generates funds for education, community development and conservation. Palm oil plantations are the leading cause of rainforest habitat destruction in Malaysia and Indonesia, and the biggest threat to habitat and forest wildlife like orangutans. Palm oil is present in nearly 50% of all packaged grocery shelf foods and is most commonly found in baked goods and snack foods, chocolate and candy, cereals and other dry goods, and non-dairy products. Palm oil is also commonly found in cosmetics and soaps. Unsustainable palm oil production is devastating to forests and wildlife. Support companies that are working to switch to certified sustainable palm oil, which is less harmful to the environment and wildlife.
The Zoo & Zoo Society also support orangutan conservation through the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program in Indonesian Borneo and Orangutan Foundation International.