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A recent
study
from Cardiff University has exposed new conservation opportunities for
the endangered orangutan, drawn from research of thousands of years of human
impact.

Conservation

Cardiff
University Professor Mike Bruford said: “This research
offers new hope for how we can save the orangutan from extinction.”

However, he explained that continued study and a ‘multifaceted
approach to conservation efforts’ are in order.

Human impact

Key to the research was observation of up to
70,000 years of human impact on orangutans, as well as genetic and behavioral
analysis.

The study’s lead author, Professor Stephanie Spehar said: “Our synthesis of
fossil, archeological, genetic and behavioural evidence indicates that
long-term interactions with humans shaped orangutans in some pretty profound
ways.”

Habitats

Discovery of remains in China, Thailand, and Vietnam indicates
that orangutans once lived in – and may still be able to adapt to – environments well beyond their current
habitats of Borneo
and Sumatra.

While it
was once believed that factors such as fruit availability confined the animals
to said environments, today’s evidence suggests that humans have had more to do
with their geographical concentration.

Adaptability

The
research also revealed that orangutans – while previously thought to be exclusively
tree-dwelling animals – in some instances spend significant time as ground
dwellers.

It is
data such as this that suggests alternative angles should be taken to protect
the species – as was prescribed by Bruford.

He said: “Only then will we stand a fighting
chance of preventing this incredibly important animal from being wiped out.”

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination....