REACT is committed to finding holistic solutions for endangered animals. In 2011, REACT is focusing on the Bornean orangutan, the Asian pygmy elephant and the Malayan sun bear, and plans to help these species through reforestation.
Ultimately, all animals depend on healthy habitats for their survival. Conserving lowland tropical rainforest in Borneo, which is the most biodiverse terrestrial habitat on Earth, makes a good deal of sense. Other endangered animals that benefit from conservation in this area include the proboscis monkey, Muller’s gibbon, clouded leopard, Bornean slow loris, banteng (a wild bovine species), binturong (bearcat), pangolin and many other thousand-rainforest species from insects to birds.
When forests are destroyed, the remaining patches become isolated in a sea of agriculture and degraded land. Large animals are the most susceptible as they need lots and lots of land. An orangutan for example needs up to 30 Km2! So for the animals that have survived in these fragments, it is often necessary to search for new feeding areas and find mates. If this is not possible, a population can become isolated for too long. This causes the animals to inbreed and leads to severe genetic issues.
Where to Reforest?
REACT is starting in an area called the Kinabatangan River. It winds its way for hundreds of kilometres from the central mountains of Borneo, through the flat lowland plains eventually emptying into the mangroves swamps and the Sulu Sea.
A recent study showed that there are there 11 forest patches that remain. Each one contains orangutans and it is predicted that eight of these populations will become extinct in the coming 200 years unless something is done. The objective is to reconnect these forest patches along this important river in Sabah over the coming years. Thanks to these green corridors orangutans, elephants and sun bears will be able to freely forage for food and to search for mates over large areas. This will ensure the survival of these species in this part of Borneo for hundreds of years to come.
This is an ambitious project and it will take the help of many organisations both locally in the State of Sabah, Malaysia, and internationally. REACT is committed to working with all the stakeholders, be they Government, local communities, private companies and NGOs to make our objective of reconnecting forest patches a reality. So far, the Orangutan Land Trust and the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums support REACT, and we hope to forge new relationships with your help and support.