The Displaced Native Inhabitants


Two more unique species from Borneo have been included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List 2020 namely the Endangered Bornean White-bearded Gibbon (Hylobates albibarbis), and the Vulnerable Red Langur/Kelasi (Presbytis rubicunda). The Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) has been included in the list since 2016. This assessment is critically important for all parties who wish to preserve biodiversity in Indonesia.

According to Oxford Brookes University Researcher in partnership with the Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF), Dr Susan Cheyne, the determination of the status of three primate species in the IUCN Redlist is a warning about the urgency of biodiversity conservation efforts in Kalimantan today, especially maintaining habitat, ecosystem and enforcement sustainability, the law against logging and poaching.

Red langur (Presbytis rubicunda) in Sebangau Forest. Photo by Dr. Fan | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP

“The main reason for the change in the status of orangutans and Red Langur (and the continued status of endangered species for gibbons) is habitat loss due to fire. 2015 was a very bad year for forest fires in Kalimantan and most of the forest, which was largely unprotected, was lost,” she said.

Based on data from the IUCN Red List, there are several threats that cause a decrease in Gibbon and Red Langur populations including annual & perennial non-timber crops, wood & pulp plantations, hunting & trapping terrestrial animals, logging & wood harvesting, Fire & fire suppression, Dams & water management/use.

“Hunting must be stopped and habitat conversion needs to be carefully planned to protect high-value forests (primary and secondary). Awareness of the status of these 3 primates is also important for people to understand. “Stakeholders are the Government, Companies, local communities and other NGOs,” she said.

Susan added, this species inhabits various types of primary, secondary and selective cutting tropical forests. Peat swamp forest is a very important habitat of the forest for Hylobates albibarbis. Therefore, BNF works in 3 landscapes namely Sebangau, Rungan and Barito Ulu to conduct habitat protection, conduct ecological studies and reforestation and patrol these areas for protection. There are many challenges that must be solved so BNF takes an approach with a variety of solutions to conserve habitat and protect wildlife.

“Given that our knowledge stretches to 1999, we are in a unique position to be able to contribute valuable knowledge about these species to the Red List assessment process. Indeed, BNF is almost entirely responsible for changing the status of red langurs from Least Concern to Vulnerable,” she added.

White-bearded gibbon (Hylobates albibarbis) in Sebangau Forest. Photo by Dr. Fan | BNF | UPT LLG CIMTROP

Written by BNF’s Content Creator, Yohanes Prahara