The majestic Orangutan lives in the dark rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia, and it is exclusively native to this part of the Asian continent. This intelligent species of ape is from the two big islands namely, Borneo and Sumatra. Orangutans like Gorillas and Chimpanzees are greatly similar to humans in terms of anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Orangutans spend their lives in trees where they make bontiful and lush nests. The body hair of the majestic Orangutan are reddish-brown and the males and females differ in size and appearance. Dominant adult males have distinctive cheek pads and produce long calls that attract females and intimidate rivals. Younger males do not have these features and resemble adult females. Orangutans mostly possess solitary existence, with social bonds occurring primarily between mothers and their dependent offspring, who stay together for the first two years.
The name orangutan means “man of the forest” in the Malay language. Orangutans have an enormous arm span. A male may stretch his arms some 7 feet (2 meters) from fingertip to fingertip—a reach considerably longer than his standing height of about 5 feet (1.5 meters). When orangutans do stand, their hands nearly touch the ground. Orangutans have tremendous strength, which enables them to swing from branch to branch and hang upside-down from branches for long periods of time to retrieve fruit and eat young leaves.
The diet of this ape of Borneo and Sumatra mainly comes from the fruits and plantation. Over 400 food types have been documented as part of the orangutans’ diet, and although it consists mainly of fruit, in times of scarcity orangutans will shift their eating habits to lower quality food, such as bark, leaves & termites, rather than travel to a different area. Courtship lasts between 3-10 days and it is the female who, not wanting to share her food source, initiates the final separation. The male has no role in the raising of his offspring. It is thought that this solitary lifestyle evolved due to erratic fruiting, leading to competition for food. With a predominantly frugivorous diet, containing relatively few calories for such a large body size, the orangutan needs to forage for 60% of the day, with the other 40% spent sleeping and resting.
Classified in the genus Pongo, orangutans were considered to be one species. However, since 1996, they have been divided into two species: the Bornean Orangutan (P. pygmaeus) and the Sumatran Orangutan (P. abelii). In addition, the Bornean species is divided into three subspecies.It’s estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans and 50,000 Bornean Orangutans living in the wild today. The Sumatran Orangutan is listed as critically endangered and the Bornean Orangutan as endangered.
The habitats of the majestic Orangutan are disappearing at an alarming rate due to deforestation and clearing of the land for pulp paper and palm oil plantations, with the remaining forest degraded by drought and forest fires. The illegal logging, fires, extensive palm oil plantations, poaching and hunting are the serious threats to the lives of the remaining orangutans on the planet earth.