UPDATE - All over the earth, animal species are going extinct at an unprecedented rate. Orangutans were once known as the "old men of the jungle," because they behave so much like humans. Now they may disappear as well. But the very LATEST victim is the Chinese tiger which, like so many others, is being exploited for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
In the Independent, Claire Soares writes that orangutans "may be wiped off the face of the earth within 10 years," due to illegal rainforest logging in their habitats. She quotes UN official Christian Nellemann as saying, "The rate of decline of the forests is the most alarming we have seen yet anywhere in the world. Suitable forest habitat may be gone in as little as a decade."
They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, but they are currently only found in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Only about 45,000 are left in Borneo and 7,000 in Sumatra. They breed only once every 7 years, making the problem even more serious.
A new UN report says, "New satellite imagery reveals that the illegal logging is now entering a new critical phase with the rainforests of south-east Asia disappearing 30% faster than had previously been supposed." It's estimated that almost 90% of the trees that are felled in Indonesia have been chopped down illegally.
UPDATE: Chinese medicine is not only contributing to the extinction of rhinos, elephants and sharks, it is causing the demise of Tigers as well. While most tigers live in India, there are a small group of them in China, which will probably soon disappear completely. New Scientist quotes Chinese government official Wang Wei as saying, "It will be a waste if the resources of dead tigers are not used for traditional medicine."
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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