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Island bliss for Orang Utan 

Orang Utan in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort
Conservation effort: Members of the panel of advisers to the Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation watching the primates at Bukit Merah Laketown Resort.

THE Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation will release a pair of orang utan onto an uninhabited island in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, near Taiping, as part of a programme to reintroduce the primates to the wild.

Its board of trustees chairman Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar said the foundation was awaiting recommendations from a panel of experts on what to do and how best to go about the next phase in its conservation programme.

The BJ Island, on which the pair of orang utan will be released, will serve as a transition point before their actual release into the wild, he said.

The island is separate from the resort’s Orang Utan Island on which conservation efforts have been ongoing over the last decade.

Mustapha Kamal, who is also MK Land Holdings Berhad executive chairman, noted that the release of the pair would take place in about five months.

“It is time to release two of our sub-adults to BJ Island where there will be minimal intervention.

“They will be kept there for five years during which their behaviour and adaptation to the wild will be studied and recorded. After five years and until there are two generations, we will release them into the wild if we can,” he told reporters after receiving deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit at the resort on Monday.

The foundation’s conservation programme, which began in the year 2000 and cost up to RM5mil to date, has a total of 26 orang utan.

Out of the number, 16 infants — seven females and nine males — have been born on Orang Utan Island.

According to Mustapha Kamal, the outcome of the discussion between the foundation and the panel of advisers would be made known after it was completed.

“We want to turn this place into a centre of excellence in orang utan conservation,” he said, adding that University of Kyoto primate research institute assistant professor Misato Hayashi would be heading the study on the 5.6ha BJ Island.

In his speech when opening the discussion, Mamit recommended that the foundation place greater importance on the primates’ diet in order to cut down their 5% death rate.

On another matter, he said the Tourism Ministry was working on bringing a few orang utan to the Kanching Forest Reserve in Shah Alam and Ulu Gombak Forest Reserve in Kuala Lumpur as tourist attractions.

“Many tourists visiting the Klang Valley want to look at the primates but do not want to travel the distance to so.”

Source: The Star




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