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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reintroduced orangs get microchipped

Orang utans get trackers 
Associated Press via

KUALA LUMPUR - VETERINARIANS have been tracking three orang utans they implanted with tiny transmitters as part of efforts to protect the endangered primates once they reintroduce them to the wild, a Malaysian official said on Monday.

French and Austrian veterinarians worked with the Wildlife Department in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island to implant specially designed coin-sized transmitters in the necks of the orang utans for the first time ever in September, said Dr Senthilvel Nathan, the department's chief field veterinarian.

The orang utans' jungle habitat in Sabah has shrunk over the decades and their numbers have plummeted as loggers cut down the forests and plantation farming encroached.

Fewer than 11,000 orang utans remain in Sabah. Up to eight times that number existed 15 years ago, a French-based conservation group, Hutan, has estimated.

The three orang utans are among about 250 primates that were cared for by humans after being found sick, injured or orphaned when they were young. They now live in a 15 square-mile (40 sq.-kilometre) reserve that can only handle a limited number of them, Dr Senthilvel said.

The transmitters will not be able to show any imminent threat to the orang utans, but they will allow officials to monitor their whereabouts in the wild and find them quickly if necessary

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