International Orangutan Day - August 19

All species of orangutans are critically endangered due to the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of their forest habitat. The treats that orang-utans face every day are illegal logging, oil-palm plantations, forest fires, mining and small-scale shifting cultivation.


Orang-utans which means people of the forest in Malay, are great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia. They are found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra, but during the Pleistocene they ranged throughout Southeast Asia and South China.


Orangutans have huge arm spans, ranging nearly 7 feet from tip to tip, remarkable when you consider that they only stand approximately 5’ above the ground. Their life span is between 30-40 years.


Orangutans have a tendency to spend 90% of their time in the treetops, making deforestation particularly devastating for them, as they spend the majority of their time there foraging for food. While primarily herbivores, the omnivorous orangutan will eat bark, insects, and even meat when they can get it.


Unfortunately, deforestation and other human activities, such as hunting, have placed the orangutan in danger of extinction. All species of orangutans are critically endangered due to the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of their forest habitat. The treats that orang-utans face every day are illegal logging, oil-palm plantations, forest fires, mining and small-scale shifting cultivation.


Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer. Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil produced from the kernels of oil palm trees. Orangutan populations are threatened because their habitat, low-lying tropical rainforest, has been cleared and converted to oil-palm plantations. Orangutans and the biodiversity struggle to co-exist with oil-palm plantations. In recent years, fires have been used to clear land for the development of oil-palm plantations.


From 1996, they were divided into two species: the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus, with three subspecies) and the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii). In 2017, a third species, the Tapanuli orangutan (P. tapanuliensis), was identified. The orangutans are the only surviving species of the subfamily Ponginae, who split from humans, chimpanzees and gorillas 19.3 to 15.7 million years ago (mya).


Flanged male Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans - (Wikipedia)

Copyright: Eric Kilby Aiwok Tim Laman


Learn more:

http://www.worldorangutanevents.org/international-orangutan-day.php

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/orangutans/

https://www.orangutan.org.uk/threats

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-orangutan-day/

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