Rope bridges a lifeline for Sabah’s orang utans

Posted on May 23, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |


A rope bridge running across Sungai Takala in Kinabatangan. — Bernama pictureA rope bridge running across Sungai Takala in Kinabatangan. — Bernama picture

KINABATANGAN:Four years on and the introduction of bridges made from ropes appears to have been put to good use by orang utans in the wild.

Recently, a team of volunteers and experts from various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) led by the state Wildlife Department conducted its first “maintenance operations” to rebuild one of several artificial bridges here.

The rope bridge in the Sungai Takala area had collapsed due to severe floods in the Danau Girang and Batu Putih areas, prompting the department together with a few NGOs — Hutan, Danau Girang Field Centre, Mescot (Community Ecotourism Team), Ropeskills Rigging Sdn Bhd and Borneo Conservation Trust Japan — to rebuild the bridge.
“This is the fourth expedition and the first time that a bridge has required rebuilding,” said Ropeskills Rigging operations director Simon Amos, who added that they also received assistance from the Batu Putih community.

“We are delighted to provide technical assistance.

“Our skills in rigging and tree climbing have contributed to the conservation of the orang utans and other primates in the Kinabatangan floodplain.”
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens said the orang utans, which were solitary animals, got trapped in forests that were fragmented because of oil palm plantations, preventing them from finding more food and partners to mate.

“The orang utans here become isolated as their ability to move around is restricted by rivers and man-made drains.

“They will naturally make their way upstream, along tributaries, to where the rivers have narrowed and the trees are connected. This will allow them to move around freely.”
State Wildlife director Dr Laurentius Ambu said the rope bridge project, introduced in 2007, aimed to connect fragmented forests to allow orang utans to migrate to find food and potential mates.

“This project is made all the more special by the fact that the Japanese NGO (Borneo Conservation Trust) still feels that the project is important to be pursued despite the hardship it is facing in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami.

“Veterinarians, scientists and workers from Japanese zoos had also participated (in the recent operations),” Ambu said.

Read more: Rope bridges a lifeline for Sabah’s orang utans

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