This effort has been realized through USM collaboration with world-renowned primate research centre, the Primate Research Institute (PRI), Kyoto University, Japan that has been carrying out research on primates since 1967.
Research Leader, Prof. Mashhor Mansor who is also Senior Fellow at the USM Centre for Global Sustainability Studies said that research on the animal that is indigenous to Borneo (Sabah & Sarawak) and Sumatera has be carried out more intensively.
He said that so far there has been no holistic research carried out on the Orang Utan in Malaysia and whatever data is available is very limited and general.
“It is essential to learn and understand their needs and evolution because this knowledge is vital in the efforts to protect the Orang Utan from the threat of extinction as well as the loss of their habitat in the forest,” he said.
He said this at a media conference held during the MoU signing ceremony between USM and PRI. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Industry and Community Network, Prof. Susie See Ching Mey signed the MoU on behalf of USM while PRI was represented by its President, Prof. Tetsuro Matsuzawa.
Also present were the Dean of the School of Biological Sciences (PPSK), Prof. Abu Hasan Ahmad and Secretary-General of PRI, Sadayuki Yagi.
Mashhor also stressed that the population of Orang Utan has decreased drastically and this is of serious concern to scientists, especially those involved directly with conservation of national biodiversity.
“The Orang Utan can consider as having lost their homes because their habitat has been encroached upon and developed without any control. Thus, this research has to be carried out immediately to ensure that the animal will not become extinct.
“We need support from all parties, especially from the government to realise our hope to see this species continue to increase in number and to ensure the growth and development of our rainforest,” he explained.
He added that the Orang Utan is an important chain in the tropical rainforest ecosystem as without the Orang Utan, the rainforest cannot develop because both are interrelated.
“Scientific research on this species is important so that we can obtain vital data to enable policy makers to see the seriousness of the problem of extinction of these unique animals that are very similar to humans,” he said.
Meanwhile, the research will cover various aspects of the life of the Orang Utan, including ecology, evolution, genetic population, behaviour and diseases.