Measuring the cost effectiveness of different strategies to save the orangutans

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An international team of researchers has evaluated the cost-effectiveness of orangutan conservation spending over the past 20 years and has found that some methods are better than others. In their paper published in the journal Current Biology, the group describes how they conducted their evaluation and what they learned from it.

Orangutans are great apes that originally lived in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia—today they are found only in parts of Borneo and Sumatra, and despite massive conservation efforts, their numbers are still dropping. Prior research has suggested that unless something more is done, they will disappear in the wild.

Prior research has also shown that over the past twenty years, approximately $1 billion has been spent by various entities on conservation efforts. Unfortunately, despite such vast sums of money spent, the population of orangutans has decreased by approximately 100,000. In this new effort, the researchers took a close look at where all that money went and which approaches worked the best to preserve .

The work by the team involved collecting and studying data obtained from various entities involved in forest protection, and general patrolling. They also did the same regarding rehabilitation and other efforts, such as moving some of the apes to new locations when their native environment was taken over by farmers. As part of their analysis, they used computer models to help highlight how well the different strategies worked to preserve the great apes.

In looking at their data, the researchers found one key effort stood above the rest: habitat protection. Orangutans tended to maintain population levels best when allowed to live in their natural environment without fear of encroachment by humans. The next best strategy was patrolling and enforcement of laws protecting the apes. The other efforts were found to be much less effective.

The researchers note that their work was difficult due to the quality of the data that was available for use and because of that, their estimates may not be very precise. Still, they note, their work has shown that the best thing humans can do to prevent from going extinct is to set aside the land where they reside and allow them to live the way they did before humans arrived on the scene.

More information: Truly Santika et al, Effectiveness of 20 years of conservation investments in protecting orangutans, Current Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.051

Journal information: Current Biology

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Citation: Measuring the cost effectiveness of different strategies to save the orangutans (2022, April 4) retrieved 31 January 2023 from
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