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Glendon primatologist talks orangutans, research and rainforests

Glendon primatologist talks orangutans, research and rainforests

Prominent Canadian primatologist and Glendon psychology Professor Anne Russon will talk about the Borneo Orangutan Society of Canada (BOS Canada) and their research projects in Kutai National Park this Thursday as part of the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability Speaker Series.

The talk, “Orangutans: Research & Rainforest Protection in Borneo”, will take place Nov. 10, from noon to 1:30pm, at 305 York Lanes, Keele campus. There will also be a panel discussion with representatives of BOS Canada. Light refreshments will be served.

The event is designed to help spread the message about the work Russon is doing in Kutai National Park, about the work of BOS Canada and about the many potential opportunities for research available in this incredibly unique and threatened wilderness.

Russon specializes in research on wild orangutan intelligence and has recently taken over Camp Kriu in Kutai National Park in Indonesian Borneo, where she studies a large population of wild orangutans. Her work is represented in Canada as part of BOS Canada.

In 2002, Borneo suffered massive fires. Kutai National Park was heavily damaged and was thought to be a write-off by many conservation biologists. As Russon will discuss during her talk, this was anything but the case. Secondary growth in the forest of Kutai has taken off, providing an incredibly rich habitat for wildlife with faster growing plants and more available fruit than in a primary forest setting.

Left: Anne Russon

Consequently, a healthy wild orangutan population is now thriving there. The park, however, is not unthreatened. Across the narrow Sangata River that divides Kutai from private land, there is a coal mine large enough to be seen from space. Like the rest of Borneo, the park risks being re-zoned for timber, mining or palm oil, should its value as a nature reserve come into dispute.

It is important to note that this region of Indonesia represents the second most biologically diverse area of the world after the Amazon. It is quickly being swallowed by the oil, timber and mining industries with little regard for the indigenous peoples who live on the land.

Russon’s profile in the park, as someone living and working there, helps to keep it protected. To continue building the profile of her project and expanding the research activities at Camp Kriu, Russon is welcoming interested students and researchers to join her.

For more information, visit the Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.