Rehabilitation of Orang-utan Habitat in Bilit, Lower Kinabatangan (HABITAT) | WWF Malaysia

Rehabilitation of Orang-utan Habitat in Bilit, Lower Kinabatangan (HABITAT)



Wild orang-utans need a reliable source of variety of fruits and young leaves to survive. rel=
Wild orang-utans need a reliable source of variety of fruits and young leaves to survive.
© WWF-Malaysia/Lee Shan Khee

Grocery store in the Forest

Consider spending 60% of your waking hours eating and searching for food...Well, the orang-utans do! They love fruits and about two-thirds of their daily meals are made up of fruits – rambutans, bananas and even durian. They seem to know the location of different fruit trees in the forest, and when each will bear fruit. Young orang-utans learn this information from their mothers.
Sadly, the variety of food for orang-utans gets scarcer every day and foraging for food isn’t like going to the supermarket. These ‘man of the forest’ are fast losing their grocery store as their rainforest home continues to fragment and deteriorate.

This is where WWF's HABITAT project comes in – to help improve and restore degraded orang-utan habitat in the Lower Kinabatangan. HABITAT aims to generate greater food sources for the appetite of these gentle giants by replanting mostly fruit trees in degraded areas.  

HABITAT’s field assistants are local youth and volunteers from Kampung Bilit, where the nursery is located. With training provided by the Forest Research Centre (FRC), Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project (KOCP) and the Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Tourism project (MESCOT), these hard-working locals have cultivated 10,214 seedlings of 19 different tree species and planted about 3,500 food trees in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. As co-managers of the project, they are responsible for the nursery, replanting seedlings at identified sites, cutting climbers and weeds that impede seedling growth and monitoring progress.  

Replanting is back-breaking work in under testing conditions. Walking through rough terrain, carrying the 70-100 seedlings and tools for each days planting, not to mention your own food and water! The locals’ satisfaction from caring for the orang-utans and their habitat makes this hardship worth the time and effort.
Replanting is labour intensive work. Team members transporting native young trees by boat to a ... 
	© WWF-Malaysia/Lee Mee See
Replanting is labour intensive work. Team members transporting native young trees by boat to a replanting site.
© WWF-Malaysia/Lee Mee See