Orangutan Bridges


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Wild orangutans living along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo now have a little help with exploring their broken forest: man-made bridges. 

“We’re trying to solve the problem of fragmented forest by finding solutions,” says Dr. Marc Ancrenaz, a Sabah, Malaysia-based wildlife biologist and the Director of HUTAN. “We are identifying bottlenecks… There are no natural bridges anymore, and orangutans cannot swim. So when we find bottlenecks, we see a split of populations. The 1,000 orangutans living in the Kinabatangan are broken into 20 groups… so we created bridges to reconnect the forest.”

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Although this conservation project began in 2002, it wasn’t until April of 2010 that an orangutan was observed using a wildlife bridge. Now, says Dr. Ancrenaz, “we find evidence every month that they use them.”

Over the years, other species have been spotted using these man-made bridges, including crab-eating macaques and pigtailed monkeys. Reconnecting these animals with their own is important in conserving the species – primates like to move around, seek out potential mates and find areas with plentiful food.

On a recent ecotour, I captured this video of a wildlife bridge spanning the Kinabatangan River:

Borneo’s orangutans are currently listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List.

Learn more about the orangutan species, hot topics and red ape conservation programs.

If you enjoy watching primates in the wild, check out episodes of Rebel Monkeys on Nat Geo WILD Wednesday, September 15th at 8 PM ET/PT!

Photo Credits: Jodi Kendall, taken on a Terra Incognita Ecotour to Borneo.