A recent study from Cardiff University has exposed new conservation opportunities for the endangered orangutan, drawn from research of thousands of years of human impact.
Cardiff University Professor Mike Bruford said: "This research offers new hope for how we can save the orangutan from extinction."
However, he explained that continued study and a 'multifaceted approach to conservation efforts' are in order.
Key to the research was observation of up to 70,000 years of human impact on orangutans, as well as genetic and behavioral analysis.
The study's lead author, Professor Stephanie Spehar said: "Our synthesis of fossil, archeological, genetic and behavioural evidence indicates that long-term interactions with humans shaped orangutans in some pretty profound ways."
Discovery of remains in China, Thailand, and Vietnam indicates that orangutans once lived in - and may still be able to adapt to - environments well beyond their current habitats of Borneo and Sumatra.
While it was once believed that factors such as fruit availability confined the animals to said environments, today’s evidence suggests that humans have had more to do with their geographical concentration.
The research also revealed that orangutans - while previously thought to be exclusively tree-dwelling animals - in some instances spend significant time as ground dwellers.
It is data such as this that suggests alternative angles should be taken to protect the species - as was prescribed by Bruford.
He said: "Only then will we stand a fighting chance of preventing this incredibly important animal from being wiped out."
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Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.
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