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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
Logging threatens Borneo species
Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Jungle, Borneo
Illegal logging will lead to the extinction of rare species
Conservationists are warning that the south-east Asian island of Borneo could lose almost all its lowland forest within a decade.

A report from the WWF says illegal logging and clearance for oil palm plantations is destroying the habitats of several animals.

Orang-utan and pygmy elephants could become unviable in just 15 years.

According to the WWF, 1.3m hectares of Borneo's lowland forest is being destroyed each year.

At that rate, it claims, by 2020 the remaining pockets of jungle may be too small and broken up for some species to be genetically viable.

In other words, each tiny area of woodland that remains will not support a healthy breeding population of large animals like pygmy elephants or orang-utan.

Wildlife paradise

Just 55,000 orang-utan are thought to remain in Borneo, a decline of two-thirds since 1990.

The biggest culprits are the illegal loggers. In the Indonesian south of the island, the trade is believed to be controlled by the army.

Logs are often then smuggled into Malaysia, whose territory covers most of the north of Borneo.

From there, the timber is shipped out, having been illegally relabelled as sustainably grown.

Malaysia has recently moved to close illegal crossing points between the countries used by the loggers.

But the trade continues and conservationists this week called on European governments to ban the import of illegal timber from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Borneo is the world's third-largest island and a wildlife treasure trove.

More than 350 new species have been discovered there in the last 10 years and the island is home to at least 44 types of mammal found nowhere else on Earth.

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26 Nov 02 |  Science/Nature

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