By Azania post reporter
Borneo's orangutan population has declined by more than half since 1999 due to palm oil production and logging, the study by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany found.
The study indicates that the number of orangutans which have been killed or removed between 1999 and 2015 is much higher than previously thought. Between 70,000 and 100,000 of the endangered primates remain in the wild
The most comprehensive study of Bornean orangutans since 1999 found the species are "highly likely" to become extinct if current trends continue.
The sharpest declines were found in areas where forests were cut down for timber or to make way for palm oil plantations.
Clearing of the bushes to pave the way for the cultivation of palm oil is one reason causing the slow extinction of Borneo's orangutan population. Palm oil is used in about 50 percent of supermarket products, from peanut butter to cleaning spray, and is the world's most popular vegetable oil.
To maintain high yields producers continually clear the trees which grow in abundance in Borneo and Sumatra - the only places in the world where wild orangutans live.
Other major factors to their species' decline include "conflict killing, poaching, and the collection of baby orangutans for the pet trade," the authors said. More individual orangutans were hunted in forests that were lost when the primates were pushed out of their habitats.
"This was a really important finding, as it supports previous research that killing and hunting is a huge problem, and it might even be the biggest driver during this period," co-author Maria Voigt, of the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said.
Co-author Professor Serge Wich, of Liverpool John Moores University, said about 70 percent of the total number of orangutans killed came from forested areas.