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anonymous Orangutans July 18, 2007 4:42 AM


Meet the red "People of the forest"Common Name 

Orangoutans (Fr);
Orangutáns (Sp)

Scientific Name Pongo sppHabitat Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf ForestsStatus 

IUCN: Endangered (Pongo pygmaeus) to Critically Endangered (Pongo abelii)

Population Central Bornean approx. 38,000 North West Bornean approx. 3,000 Sumatra approx. 7,500

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This information has been reviewed.

The lowland forest habitats of this red "man of the forest" are fast disappearing under the chainsaw, or being burned deliberately to make way for agriculture and oil palm plantations. Unless these unique great apes are conserved in well-managed, secure protected areas, and in wider forest landscapes connected by corridors, they may well be facing extinction in the wild.

WWF is working with its partners to secure a future for the orangutan. This will require a broad based approach, not only by providing protection for orangutan populations, but also by fighting to prevent destruction of the species' forest habitat. Action is also needed to stamp out a widespread trade in orangutans as pets. WWF is currently producing an Action Plan to define and prioritise its work on orangutans for the next 10 years.

Physical DescriptionThere are two orangutan species:

  • Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii)
  • Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
orangutans are the largest tree-climbing mammal and the only great ape found in Asia.

They have a characteristic ape-like shape, shaggy reddish fur and grasping hands and feet, with very long arms that may reach 2 m in length. Legs are relatively short and weak, but the hands and arms are powerful. Adult males are distinguished by their large size, throat pouch and cheek pads on either side of the face.

Orangutans travel about by moving from one tree to another, avoiding climbing down to the ground. The species moves on "all fours", with the clenched fist placed on the ground. At night they make a nest of vegetation to sleep in, with smaller ones made during the day to rest.

Body length is about 1.25-1.5 m. Adults weigh 30 to 50 kg for females and 50-90 kg for males.

The fur is reddish brown in colour.

HabitatMajor habitat type
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Biogeographic realm

Range States
Indonesia, Malaysia

Ecological Region
Borneo Lowland and Montane Forests, Kinabalu Montane Shrublands, Sundaland Rivers and Swamps

Interesting FactsSome captive released individuals learned independently to untie complex knots that secured boats and rafts, and then to shove off, board, and ride the vessels across rivers.

Wild orangutans have also been observed making tools to scratch themselves, using leafy branches to shelter under, and using branches for foraging, honey collection etc. Released captive individuals are reported to use sticks for digging, fighting, prying, eating, scratching, and many other purposes.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:45 AM

Two Orangutans  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:50 AM


The only great ape that lives on the Asian continent, the orangutan is found on the Malaysian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Its name means "man of the forest," and it is one of thousands of species of wildlife that live in tropical Asian forests.

The orangutan's story is similar to that of a large number of Asian animals: its forest habitat is being rapidly destroyed by conversion to agriculture, both by large commercial plantations and smaller subsistence farms. At the same time, humans are killing the orang's prey species (birds and small mammals) for food and capturing it for the pet trade.

There are an estimated 30,000 orangutans left in the wild, about 20,000 on Borneo and under 10,000 on Sumatra. Scientists are uncertain whether all orangutans are one species, or whether the Sumatran and Bornean populations have become so isolated from each other that they are two subspecies. (Click here to read more about species and subspecies)

The great apes include gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans. Of these, orangs are the most arboreal (living in trees). It is rare for an adult orang to ever touch the ground. Their strong hands, handlike feet, and long arms (with a span of up to 8 feet) are supremely adapted to life in the trees. They do not even have to come to the ground to drink -- they drink the water that collects in tree holes.

Orangutans are omnivorous; they eat both plants and animals. They eat fruit, leaves, nuts, shoots, insects, and, when they can catch them, young birds and small mammals. By about the age of ten, an orang will have learned to identify over 200 different food plants.

The orang's favorite food is fruit. An orang seems to know the location of different fruit trees in the forest, and when each is due to bear fruit. Some trees bear fruit only every two or three years. Young orangs learn this information from their mothers.

Orangs spend most of their lives alone. The males are very territorial, and each male's territory overlaps those of several females. Because orangs do not tolerate each other very well, they need large areas of forest to survive. Crowding causes them to fight among themselves, possibly over the limited supply of fruit.

Causes of Endangerment Habitat Loss

The orangutan's forest habitat is being cleared for agriculture. Oil palm plantations are taking over more and more of the landscape. One plantation can be 100,000 to 300,000 hectares (1 acre = 2.47 hectares). World development banks provide money to help create many of the oil palm plantations, in an effort to improve the local economy.

Most of the lowland forest on Borneo and Sumatra is gone, and orangs and other forest species are being forced into higher elevation forests. These forests are not as productive as lowland forests and can not support the same density of animals.

Borneo and Sumatra are rich in oil and gas, so it would seem that the island people and local governments could make money without having to log their forests. However, the national government of Malaysia keeps 95 per cent of the revenue from oil and gas sales, so the local government must raise funds some other way. The local government raises revenue by logging the forests and by farming.

Researchers have found that logging creates major problems for orangs, other than destroying older forest habitat. In fact, secondary forest grows rapidly after the older forest has been logged, and orangs are able to adapt to this younger forest habitat.

The bigger problem is that logging companies do not provide food for their workers. Hundreds of loggers are employed to cut down a particular area of forest, and they have to find food for themselves. The loggers, along with settlers who establish communities in the forest, hunt orangs, birds, and small mammals the orangs eat.

Pet Trade

Logging brings another problem for the orangs: logging roads make forests more accessible. Poachers come into the forest on logging roads, shoot mother orangutans, and capture the babies. Baby orangs are very desirable as pets in Asia. A few years ago, a Taiwanese television show featured a baby orang as a pet. Suddenly, demand for orangs shot up.

Up to 2,000 baby orangs were captured and shipped to Taiwan for the pet trade. Researchers estimate that over 6,000 mothers were killed and 4,000 captured babies died to supply the 2,000 pets, since only about one-third of those captured survive.

Conservation Actions Protected Areas

Both Borneo and Sumatra have established reserves for orangutans and other imperiled forest species. The reserves are separated from each other by rivers, mountains, and settlements. Scientists do not know whether the reserves can support viable populations, or even how many orangs live in each reserve.

Rehabilitation of Pet Orangs  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:53 AM

Rehabilitation of Pet Orangs

When baby orangs grow up, they become difficult pets, and owners often ask officials to take them away. Many orangs raised as pets suffer from disease, and they are not suited to living in the wild. Some can be taught to live in the wild, but rehabilitation is a long and expensive process.

It is also very expensive to keep former pet orangs in rehabilitation centers, especially since many never learn to live in the wild and must be kept in a center their whole lives. The Malaysian government does not have enough money to run these centers. Conservation groups from other countries are helping out.

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anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:55 AM

I0337SUn.jpg (21944 bytes)  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous Orangutan babys July 18, 2007 4:56 AM

Three baby orangutans.  [report anonymous abuse]
anonymous  July 18, 2007 4:58 AM

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anonymous Two orangutangs born July 19, 2007 3:19 AM

Two rescued Indonesian orangutans give birth
rescued orangutans give birthTwo of the 48 orangutans that were returned to Indonesia in November after a protracted rescue operation in Thailand have given birth, a wildlife activist said Monday.

"Two of the orangutans have given birth, both to male babies," said Willie Smits of the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Central Kalimantan.

Smits told AFP that one of the orangutans delivered her baby in January and the second on March 5 at the animal rehabilitation centre in Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo island.

He said the pregnancies were only discovered after they had been repatriated in November.

"The mothers and the baby are healthy," he said, adding that many of the other apes have been discovered to suffer from various diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis.

"The tests were not done properly before they were allowed to leave Thailand," he said.

The primates had been smuggled into Thailand and were seized two years ago at a Bangkok zoo that was found to have acquired them illegally. An investigation was carried out to determine whether they were from Malaysia or Indonesia.

Their eventual return to Borneo was delayed by September's military coup in Thailand. An Indonesian air force plane flew the animals in November to the centre.

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 July 20, 2007 9:15 AM

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anonymous  July 23, 2007 8:31 AM

News photos from the week of May 18-24, 2007  [report anonymous abuse]
 July 23, 2007 7:17 PM

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 May 12, 2011 7:53 AM

for Petitions for Orangutans, Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Rainforests, Global Warming and Info about Wildlife and Deforestation Southeast Asia, please JOIN Group ORANGUTANS: Men of the Forest   Do it FOR: Orangutans, Sumatran Tigers (Java and Bali TIGERS ALREADY EXTINCT!!!), Elephants, Rhinos, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Indigenous People, Rainforests in Southeast Asia, our Children and Grandchildren… AGAINST: Deforestation, Corporate Control, Global Warming, Illegal Logging, Pet Trade!!!

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