Citizen Scientists: Protecting Orangutans

Be a Citizen Scientist

Aberdeen University is looking for citizen scientists who can help them in a project to protect orangutans by taking part in online research.

Watch:  Orangutan Nest Survey- Citizen Science

PhD student Sol Milne who is leading the project said:

“We are asking citizen scientists to help out as our ‘eyes in the sky’  – by registering online and joining our survey, you can help us make a vital contribution to protecting critically endangered orangutans.  Every click counts, so the more volunteers we can involve the better.”

Bornean orangutan“Orangutans are critically endangered threatened by local extinction in Borneo, mostly due to habitat loss,” explained Sol.

“Thankfully an agreement has been reached that no further forest will be logged within the state for the oil palm industry, and that at least 30 per cent of the land mass will be dedicated as forest reserves by 2025.

“This provides a great opportunity to develop strategies to conserve the remaining orangutan populations, however we need to determine the characteristics of the kind of habitat they need to survive.

“Orangutans make nests every day, large enough to support their weight in the tops of trees.  By counting the number of these nests we find, we can get a better idea of their habitat requirements.

“Through our research we have carried out drone surveys which have yielded thousands of images that need to be reviewed individually, and carefully, for signs of nests and distinctive fig trees in the forest canopy. “

The research team has collected nearly 6000 images across 260,000 hectares of mixed-use land over the course of the two-year field study, which is funded by the United Nations Development Programme.

PhD student Sol Milne who is leading the project is under the direction of Dr David Burslem and Dr Julien Martin from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences.

deforestation caused by palm oil cultivationThe survey can be found here

Twitter: @OrangutanSurvey

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Reporter: Fiona Grahame



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