Bornean Orangutans and whale sharks are near extinction due to humans, conservationists warn

'As orangutans are hunted and pushed out of their habitats, losses to this slow-breeding species are enormous and will be extremely difficult to reverse,' says Erik Meijaard

Matt Payton
Saturday 09 July 2016 20:24
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Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation carry a tranquilized orangutan as they conduct a rescue and release operation for orangutans trapped in a swath of jungle
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation carry a tranquilized orangutan as they conduct a rescue and release operation for orangutans trapped in a swath of jungle

Orangutans and whale sharks are on the brink of extinction in Borneo due to human pressures, conservationists have warned.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said the number of Bornean orangutans has dropped to 100,000 from 288,500 in 1973. The population is expected to further shrink to 47,000 by 2025, ABC News reports.

Erik Meijaard, the IUCN assessor of the species, said: “This is the first time in many decades that we have a clear understanding of Bornean orangutan population trends.

“As orangutans are hunted and pushed out of their habitats, losses to this slow-breeding species are enormous and will be extremely difficult to reverse.”

In addition to loss of habitat, surveys have found 2,000 to 3,000 orangutans have been killed by hunters or villagers each year over the past four decades.

A whale shark, nearly six meters (20 feet) long, swims near the surface of the plankton-rich water (Getty Images)

Joining the great ape on the IUCN’s red list of endangered species is the whale shark, the largest fish in the world.

The slow-moving shark species has seen its numbers halved over the last 75 years, due to increased use of its meat and fins for soups in parts of Asia.

They have also been caught accidentally by trawlers fishing for tuna or killed by ship propellers.

Another species added to the red list is the winghead shark, a member of the hammerhead shark family.

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