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ORANGUTANS

Orang - Hutan means Person of the Forest

 

Orangutans symbolise all of the wildlife who are affected by deforestation.

Campaigns focus mainly on them because it is simpler to campaign about one species rather than thousands of species. 

 

Orangutans are highly intelligent with an ability to reason and think and are one of our closest relatives, sharing 98% of our DNA. Great apes have a big brain and can use tools, such as sticks, to help them get food to eat or leaves to make a sunshade or umbrella.

They are regarded as an ‘umbrella species’, which means they are pivotal in creating the necessary environment for the thousands of fauna and flora that make up the biodiversity of the South-East Asian rainforest.

Their arboreal tree-swinging lives help to spread tree seeds throughout the forest, some trees can only germinate when they have passed through an orangutan’s gut.

Orangutans live in Asia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, living in lowland and hilly tropical rainforests.  

There are 3 species of orangutans in Indonesia :

The Borneo Orangutan between 50,000 to 60,000 in the wild - comprising of 3 sub

species Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus(most endangered), Pongo pygmaeus

morio and Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii 

The Sumatran Orangutan approximately 14,470 in the wild - Pongo abelii

The Tapanuli Orangutan approximately 800 in the wild - Pongo tapanuliensis

ALL ARE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

DIET

The orangutan diet is made up of bark, leaves, flowers, insects ants, termites, soil, and over 300 kinds of fruit.  Mothers teach their babies what food to eat, in which trees to find it and in what season. Orangutans have a habit of eating fruit while cruising from one tree to another, snacking on the way during their explorations. In this way they help the regeneration of rainforest vegetation by spreading seeds far from parent trees.

It’s thought that orangutans must have a very complex mind-map of the forest and detailed knowledge of the fruiting cycles of many species of trees. This prevents wasting valuable energy randomly searching for fruit trees and travelling to a certain fruiting tree whose fruits will not ripen for some time. Babies must eventually know hundreds of species of plants and trees, which ones are edible or medicinal and how to process them, as some are very difficult to eat because of their sharp spines and shells. This is one of the reasons that a young orangutan stays with its mother for sometimes up to 8yrs.

 

Quick Orangutan Facts

  1. orangutans make a new nest from leaves and branches in high up treetops each night

  2. almost all of the food they eat grow in the treetops 

  3. the frequent rains fill the leaves, supplying them with drinking water

  4. if water is scarce, they chew leaves to make a sponge & soak up water in tree cavities

  5. if it rains hard, they might make an umbrella for out of big leaves

  6. they rarely come down from the tree tops

  7. some orangutans make tools to aid in foraging for food

  8. orangutan can't swim

  9. orangutans have been observed using sticks to catch fish

  10. they emit a variety of calls and vocalisations

  11. orangutans make a kiss-squeak sound if wary or someone or something gets too close

  12. lifespan is about 35-40 years in the wild, and sometimes into the 50’s in captivity

  13. females only give birth about once every eight years

  14. an orangutan will only have four or five babies in her lifetime, which is why orangutan populations are very slow to recover from any kind of disturbance.

  15. gestation is 8 months

  16. orangutan mothers nurse their babies for up to 6yrs

  17. orangutans reach puberty around 8 yrs old

  18. young males may stay close by their mothers for a few more years, but as they mature they will travel long distances, paying little attention to other orangutans that they meet

  19. young females may stay close to their mothers until they are into their teens, allowing them to observe mothering skills as they watch younger siblings being raised.

  20. adult orangutans don’t form groups as other great apes do. 

  21. Orangutans live a fairly solitary life, other than mothers with babies and when finding a mate, which lasts for two to three weeks​

  22. they eat an omnivorous diet of fruit, leaves, seeds, bark, flowers, honey, vines, shoots, insects, and very rarely meat

  23. orangutans skin is grey and their hair ranges from orange to red

  24. their legs are short ( 1/2 the length of their arms) & arm spans can be up to 2m

  25. male orangutans are twice as big as females

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