Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

birth of endangered great ape

15 December 2005

Auckland Zoo welcomes birth of endangered great ape

Click for big version
Melur and Madju taken by Auckland Zoo's photographer, Graham Meadows

********

Auckland Zoo's Bornean orang utan Melur is being the perfect mum to her new-born son Madju, whom she delivered with ease earlier last month.


Confident, but cautious, and one hundred percent attentive, she looks at him adoringly like any proud and doting mother. The mother-baby bond is breathtakingly human-like from this great ape, whose genetic make-up is 97 per cent similar to humans.

The birth boosts the zoo's orang utan population to nine for this endangered species, which, arguably the world's slowest-breeding land mammal, produces offspring only about once every eight years.

"Madju's (Indonesian for 'to make progress') birth is really something to celebrate. It's very positive. But the fact that almost 90 per cent of both Bornean and Sumatran orang utan habitat has been decimated by illegal logging and the growth of palm oil plantations, is anything but," says Auckland Zoo Curator, Maria Finnigan.

Orangutans are only found in Borneo (Malaysia) and Sumatra (Indonesia) - also the world's largest producers and exporters of palm oil. Found in everything from margarines to beauty products, palm oil is forecast to become the world's most produced and internationally traded edible oil by 2012.

Orangutan numbers in the wild are dropping rapidly, and if this current growth of palm oil plantations continues, orang utan could become extinct in the wild in less than 20 years. The illegal pet trade of infant orang utans is also impacting on numbers. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) currently classifies Bornean orang utans (population 12,000 - 20,000) as 'Endangered', and Sumatran orang utans, (population just 7,000), as 'Critically Endangered'.


"It's an appalling and unnecessary situation, and I believe that with the right intentions and actions, we do not have to see this magnificent species become extinct in our lifetime," says Maria Finnigan, who has worked extensively in Africa with other great ape species.

"As 'The Oil for Ape Scandal', (a collaborative report by a number of NGOs including Friends of the Earth) states, forest conversion is not necessary for the future growth of the oil-palm sector. This report also urges the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to ban forest conversion, and advises that greater productive efficiency and the redirection of plantation development on the millions of hectares of abandoned and heavily degraded land, would greatly reduce the destruction of forests. These are the kind of actions that need to happen," says Ms Finnigan.

Through its Conservation Fund, Auckland Zoo continues to support the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), and advocate for this species. Founded in 1999, SOCP has 120,000 ha of protected lowland forest and a purpose-built medical quarantine facility in northern Sumatra. Its roles encompass rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing 'ex-pet' animals, public education, research and monitoring, and habitat protection. Among fundraising events the Conservation Fund will run over summer, will be a special screening of the classic 'King Kong' at the zoo on 26 January.

At present, Zoo visitors may see Melur and Madju in their outdoor enclosure where they are spending short periods, or in the orang utan playroom. But as the weeks go by their time outside will increase, and chances of a good view of mum and baby will be more likely. Footage of Melur and her baby can also be viewed at the zoo's Paddlepop Kidzone area.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 



Reserve Bank: Monetary Conditions Tighten By More And Sooner

The Monetary Policy Committee today increased the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to 2.0 percent. The Committee agreed it remains appropriate to continue to tighten monetary conditions at pace to maintain price stability... More>>


The Download Weekly: Vodafone FibreX back in court

Vodafone and the Commerce Commission head back to court over FibreX in a week the TCF issues broadband marketing codes that should avoid similar problems in the future... More>>


NIWA: Tonga Eruption Discoveries Defy Expectations
New findings from the record-breaking Tongan volcanic eruption are “surprising and unexpected”, say scientists from New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)... More>>


Fonterra: Provides 2022/23 Opening Forecast Farmgate Milk Price & Business Performance Update
Fonterra today announced its 2022/23 opening forecast Farmgate Milk Price and provided an update on its third-quarter performance... More>>


Stats: Quiet Start For Retail In 2022
The volume of retail sales was relatively unchanged in the March 2022 quarter, following a strong increase in the December 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today... More>>



Finder: RBNZ Survey: 64% Of Experts Say Rising Inflation Will Push More Kiwis Into Debt

Soaring inflation and cost of living pressures will see many households pushed to the financial limit, according to experts... More>>