08/26/2011, 00.00
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Borneo: Anglo-Malaysian team building "bridges" for orangutans

A team of experts from Chester Zoo will work with the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project. Deforestation and infrastructure devastating the animals’ natural ecosystem. The project will start next October and it is only the "first step" in a long term project.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A team of experts from Chester Zoo in England, will work with their Malaysian counterparts from Borneo, to build special "decks for orang-utans." The project will begin in October of 2011, and will construct structures that will allow the animals to move freely in an area ravaged by deforestation. The construction of "bridges" involves the use of materials already available to primates, in an area reserved for them.

Marc Ancrenaz, co-founder of the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project, leads the initiative and is supported by British and non British experts. Nick Davis, an environmentalist from Chester Zoo, said that the material to be used will be taken from the fence used to delimit the area reserved for the orang-utans. He says that there is "limited material" available for the construction, because the strength of animals is such that they "destroy everything".

For five years, the group led by Ancrenaz, based at the village of Sukau, in Malaysian Borneo, has been working to develop an environment for the monkeys, including bridges for their movements. The project was born after la lengthy study of a population of orang-utans, divided into 20 small groups due to the development of oil palm plantations, roads, artificial rivers. Unlike others similar to their species, the orang-utans can not swim and rivers become impassable barriers, in addition, deforestation has caused the exponential decrease of "natural bridges", used by animals to move.

In October, British zoologists, environmentalists and will experts leave for Malaysia. They hope that the development project planned in the region will be long term. "It's just the first step" says Davis, who sounded the alarm: "The problem is the progressive fragmentation of the forest - he explains - which could make it impossible for the movement of the orang-utans."
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