The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Saving Orangutans.

Sir David Attenborough has called for greater protection for the wild habitat of orang-utans amid fears "emotional" television programmes about rescued apes have failed to raise awareness of the need to protect the rainforests where the animals live.

Programmes like the BBC's Orang-utan Diary, following the lives of orphaned and rescued orang-utans at a refuge centre in Borneo, have recently raised awareness of rehabilitation schemes helping the great ape be reintroduced into the wild.

However conservationists argue the money would be better spent protecting the rainforests where the orang-utans live.

Even if the animals are rescued many do not survive in the wild and can even spread disease in the existing population.

At a debate at the Linnaean Society of London, conservationists will argue over the best way to save the orang-utan. The great ape, which is one of man's closest evolutionary cousins, could be extinct in ten years largely due deforestation because of demand for palm oil and timber in Indonesia.

Programmes like Orang-utan Diary has followed orphans rescued from traders, who can fetch a high price for the animals as pets or for use in entertainment.

However John Burton, Chief Executive of the World Land Trust, said such series risks sentimentalising the issue.

"Orang-utan Diaries has raised public awareness but the negative effects is that it makes people think having cuddly baby orang-utans in captivity is a way of conserving them.

"It is very, very emotional. I do not have a problem with that, but it is a welfare issue; it has no mainstream value to conservation."

Mr Burton pointed out that by 2020 there will be so few animals in the wild, the population in the rainforest will no longer be viable.

"There is something like 1,000 orang-utans in captivity on the island of Borneo alone and 200 are being kept in zoos but there is nowhere for them in the wild. We need to distinguish between welfare and conservation. Keeping them in captivity is welfare because people to do not want to see them die, but it is not conservation."

Even if you rescue the orang-utans, he argued they are at risk of spreading infection in the wild population and argued that the money would be much better spent buying land for orang-utans to be protected in the wild.

"Millions of pounds are being spent on maintaining orang-utans in captivity. If the same amount of money was spent on protecting the wild ones, it would be much better spent."

Sir David said the protection of the rainforests must run alongside any rehabilitation.

He said: "Every bit of the rainforest that is knocked down is less space for orang-utans. They have been reduced very seriously in the past decade, and we must do all we can to reverse this devastation. I fully support World Land Trust in its bid to save this important land!"


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