When you think of endangered species, the orangutan may not be the first that springs to mind. These incredibly intelligent great apes are so closely associated with humans that people often assume that they are in no danger of going extinct - but this could not be any further away from the truth.
Orangutan conservation efforts are drastically needed to help provide this species of Great Ape with a future for years to come. Endemic to only Borneo and Sumatra, the orangutans are only found in the ever-depleting rainforests of the two islands and at a number of orangutan sanctuaries scattered.
ORANGUTANS AT A GLANCE
ENDANGERED STATUSCritically Endangered
NUMBER REMAINING IN THE WILDLess than 120,000
ENDEMIC REGIONBorneo and Sumatra
HOW ENDANGERED ARE ORANGUTANS?
There are three species of orangutan, the Bornean and the Sumatran, along with the Tapanuli. All are classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, and this is after a sudden fall in their numbers over the last 100 years.
One century ago, it was thought that there were over 230,000 orangutans roaming through the forests of Sumatra and Borneo, but today this number has fallen drastically. On average, this means we are losing more than 1,000 orangutans every year, and this is incredibly unsustainable if the Great Apes are to have a future.
THREATS ORANGUTANS ARE FACING
The orangutans are facing many threats, but one thing all of these threats have in common is the fact that they are caused by human activity. The most major problem facing the orangutans is habitat loss. A lot of the forests in Borneo are being cut down at an alarming rate to make way for palm oil and other agricultural plantations, and this is limiting the areas within which the orangutans can live. This has often forced the orangutans to come into contact with humans, and when this happens the orangutan is, all too often, killed.
Other issues facing the Great Apes include hunting and the illegal wildlife trade. These threats are making the need for orangutan conservation efforts all the more present in today's world.
- Orangutans have a seriously long arm span. Some can stretch theirs out to a mighty 2 meters long when measured from fingertip to fingertip!
- Female orangutans only give birth once every 8 years on average, and this incredibly slow birth rate is another problem when looking at the reasons why orangutan numbers are not recovering.
- Unlike many other Great Apes such as chimpanzees and gorillas, orangutans prefer to live solitary lives and avoid group contact when possible.
We have so far donated this year £500 to their conservation as we would hate to live in a World where they no longer exist.