25,000 Hectares of Forest in Sabah in Jeopardy

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The Lower Kinabatangan region of Sabah is at risk of more deforestation for palm oil. Orangutans, Borneo pygmy elephants and other animals live in this part of Sabah too. Forests in the Lower Kinabatangan is already much affected by fragmentation mostly due to palm oil development.

We are working hard to obtain more information on this matter.

There are approximately 11,000 orangutans (Pongo Pygmaeus Morio subspecies) left in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah with more than 1,000 of them in the Lower Kinabatangan region.

Full details on this matter is available in our Press Release below:


Huge forest under threat from ‘unsuitable’ oil palm

KOTA KINABALU: A huge swathe of forest in Sabah stretching for 100km on the Lower Kinabatangan is in danger of being lost by conversion to oil palm planting, despite being unsuitable, says a wildlife conservation group.

The forest covers 25,000 hectares and is under threat of conversion to oil palm, says Upreshpal Singh, director of the Friends of the Orangutan group, quoting a published study.

He said the study entitled, “Synergies for Improving Oil Palm Production and Forest Conservation in Floodplain Landscapes” and published by www.plosone.org had concluded that “this huge area of forest is unsuitable for any form of agricultural planting, as two-thirds of it are seasonally flooded. Worse, if this same area is turned in oil palm plantations, an additional 15,000 hectares of failed planting will happen”.

He urged the state government to turn the forest into a wildlife sanctuary or Class I forest reserve and to cancel all plans for deforestation in the Kinabatangan region.

“No one will benefit from oil palm plantation in this area, we’re talking about massive amounts of financial loss for smallholders,” he said. “The problem of fragmented forests in the Kinabatangan region will only get worse and will thus increase the problem of wildlife-human conflict, and it’s the orangutans and other animals who will suffer.

“The lower parts of the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain have lost most of their forest cover following conversion to agriculture. Scientific studies also revealed that the remaining orangutan population is a mere 5 to 10% of the original numbers in the area”.

He urged Sabah chief minister Musa Aman, to protect the forest before it is gone forever, taking along with it the remaining orangutans, pygmy elephants and other animals.

He said great ape tourism in Africa raked in millions of tourist dollars every year, while responsible and ethical orangutan tourism in the wilderness of Sabah is virtually non-existent. This can not only be another reason to protect our forests, but also increase the income of local communities.”


Link to full Press Release:


‘Synergies for Improving Oil Palm Production and Forest Conservation in Floodplain Landscapes’ can be download from here.