Basic Facts About Orangutans and the

Threats They Face
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert to make a difference.
Conservation Status:  Critically Endangered

Orangutans are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild (IUCN)

sumatran

Sumatran

Pongo abelii
Bornean

Bornean

Pongo pygmaeus
Tap

Tapanuli

Pongo tapanuliensis

Key

Statistics
Location
Native to 2 Indonesian Islands–Borneo and Sumatra
DNA
Share 97 percent of human DNA
Population
Only 104,700 remain in the wild
Decline
Over 50% decline in 16 years
Deaths
Currently At least 3% killed each year
hectares
9,154,000 hectares (22,620,023 acres) of primary forest destroyed from 2002-2018
illegal trade
Illegal wildlife trade is a $10 billion annual business, second only to the drug market
palm oil
Indonesian palm oil exports have exploded 1,500% to $20.7 billion in the past 20 years
palm oil
85% of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Maylasia
fires
80% of the fires in Indonesia are being set to clear land for palm oil plantations

Quick

Facts

Species & Scientific Names

Bornean (Pongo pygmaeus)
Sumatran (Pongo abelii)
Tapanuli (Pongo tapanuliensis)

Physical Size

4 to 5 feet tall
73 to 220 pounds
Arm length is longer than height and males have an armspan of up to 7 feet

Life Span

30 to 40 years in the wild

Reproduction & Parental Care

Gestation is 8.5 months and female orangutans normally give birth to one offspring every 6 to 8 years. Baby orangutans are completely dependent on their mothers and cling to them the first 2 years. Mothers nurse their young up to 8 years, carry them until age 5, and teach their offspring until age 10.

Habitat

In tropical rainforests, usually low-lying peat forests and other lush forests in Borneo and Sumatra. They build elaborate nests in tree branches each night, use leaves as tools and protection, and primarily move through the forest by way of trees.

Diet

Omnivore and nearly 90% of their diet is fruit. They eat over 400 different types of plants.

Social Oranization & Behavior

Semi-solitary and peaceful social system. Males are loners.

Communication & Vocalizations

Over 32 distinct vocalizations including kiss-squeak when excited or fearful , “raspberry” during nest building, “grumph” sounds when disturbed or annoyed, and long call when threatening others

Strengths

Incredible intelligence, patience, curiosity, and wisdom; tremendous strength; sophisticated use of tools, agility in moving through the forest canopy.

Weaknesses

Clumsy and slow when traveling on foot (making them highly vulnerable); fearful and reluctant swimmers, and extremely low birth rates.

Natural Predators

Tigers, cloud leopards and pythons.

Human Threats

Habitat destruction and degradation, poaching, bush meat trade, human-orangutan conflict, and desease transmission.

Palm Oil

Basics

Palm oil is a highly versatile vegetable oil used in everything from processed foods, cosmetics, shampoo, cleaning products, candles, soaps and more. It’s also used as a bio-fuel and a protein source to fatten livestock.

Globally, it is the most heavily produced vegetable oil and it’s presence in consumer products is staggering—90% of the palm oil produced is used in consumer products, nearly 78% of foods contain it, 70% of cosmetics use palm oil derivatives as emulsifiers and surfactants, and nearly 50% of palm oil imported into the EU is used as biofuel. It’s ease in growing, high yield, and low production costs make palm oil popular crop for large and small-scale growers.

Demand for palm oil has exploded in the past 20 years and Indonesia supplies over half the world’s palm oil. Massive deforestation of primary forest—key to survival of Orangutans and all the plants and animals of this rich biodiverse habitat, is attributed to the advent of palm oil plantations, especially large-scale growers. Palm oil cultivation isn’t the only threat to Orangutans, but it is one of the key threats, and continues to squeeze Orangutans onto ever-shrinking, degraded and fragmented parcels of forest.

The topic of palm oil is a highly controversial and polarizing one with no easy solutions. For purposes of saving Orangutans and all the other forest-dwelling inhabitants, Save Orangutans Now recommends only choosing products that contain RSPO palm oil.  Learn more about managing your consumption of palm oil below.

Sustainable Palm Oil Shopping

Palmsart

Palm Oil Scanner

Reduce

Reduce your overall consumption of palm oil — processed foods are unhealthy anyway!

Choose Well

Read labels and choose RSPO palm oil.

Tell Others

Spread the word so that others so others make informed choices.

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