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10 Amazing facts about orangutans

27.5.2019

Did you know Orangutan means 'Person of the Forest'?

  • ‘Orangutan’ means ‘Person of the Forest’ in Malay and Bahasa Indonesian.
  • There are three species of orangutan: Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli. All are critically endangered.
  • The most endangered orangutan species, the Tapanuli, was only recognised in 2017. There are less than 800 of them left.
  • Orangutans are not monkeys, they belong to the great ape family of primates, which also consists of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and us humans.
  • Orangutans are the largest arboreal (tree-dwelling) animals in the world.
  • The bond between an orangutan mother and her baby is powerful. They are inseparable for the first 5-7 years of the child’s life, as the mother shows them everything they need to survive in the jungle- from where and when to find food, to how to avoid predators, and how to build sleeping nests in the tree tops.
  • There are over 4000 food items that orangutans love to eat. Their diet includes bark, leaves, flowers, vines, some insects for protein, and over 300 types of fruit!
  • They are the most solitary primate. Male and female adult orangutans usually only come together to roam and mate while the female is in oestrus.
  • Adult males can be distinguished from females by their impressive ‘cheek pads’, although some males develop them later in life. Females tend to prefer males with cheek pads, but unflanged males (without cheek pads) are also known to reproduce.
  • As forests are cleared for palm oil plantations, mining and logging, orangutans are losing their habitat. This deforestation exacerbates the climate crisis, which makes the world less habitable for all species, including humans. With a population reduction of around 100,000 between 1999 and 2015, orangutans are losing the battle for survival. Their time is running out. We must act now.