WWF-Malaysia captures first images of orangutans in Gunung Lesong, Sarawak

Posted on 17 Aug 2023
Source of News: The STAR

KUCHING: Camera traps set by WWF-Malaysia for a wildlife survey have captured the first images of orangutans in the forests of Gunung Lesong in Sarawak's Sri Aman division.

Calling it an exciting development, WWF-Malaysia said this highlighted the need to better protect the remaining forests outside Gunung Lesong National Park.

"As far as we know, this is the first time we have captured orangutans using camera traps in Gunung Lesong," WWF-Malaysia senior field biologist Lukmann Haqeem Alen said in a joint statement with the Sri Aman Development Agency (SADA) and Gunung Lesong Community Based Ecotourism Committee on Wednesday (Aug 16).

He said the images confirmed local sightings of orangutans in the area, with one community member managing to record a video in December last year believed to show an orangutan.

According to Lukmann, three orangutans were present in the images, based on their body sizes and facial features.

"One of the images captured shows a mother orangutan with her baby, which serves as an encouraging sign that the population is still breeding in this area," he added.

Gunung Lesong was gazetted as a national park in 2013 due to the presence of orangutans in the mountain.

Together with the nearby Ulu Sebuyau National Park, it forms a large area of orangutan habitats that encompass community land in between.

WWF-Malaysia is working with the local communities to safeguard the ecosystem surrounding Gunung Lesong.

It said one key activity was to recognise the Gunung Lesong-Ulu Sebuyau Corridor by ensuring that the forests remain intact for orangutans to move between these sites.

Meanwhile, SADA special administrative officer Datuk Indit Bangai said the agency would continue to work with key stakeholders, including WWF-Malaysia, to develop a community-based ecotourism model for the area and to conserve orangutans and their habitats.

"We are indeed delighted with the camera trap images of orangutans in this area," he said.

Gunung Lesong Community Based Ecotourism Committee chairman Dr Victor Luna said it was important to sustainably manage and prevent degradation or conversion of orangutan habitats in the area.

"Gunung Lesong is my hometown and I envision the people here to pursue sustainable livelihood options such as ecotourism and agroforestry," he added.


TAGS / KEYWORDS:Sarawak , Camera Traps , Orangutans , Gunung Lesong , WWF-Malaysia