The orangutans are the only great apes that occurs outside Africa, and they are the largest arboreal mammal in the world.
Orangutans are extremely intelligent, and have shown evidence of tool use and culture – traits once believed to be uniquely human. Orangutans are within our own family, Hominidae, the great apes, though they are the least closely related great ape to humans.
Despite being one of our closest relatives, human activities are having a devastating impact on the species. A major threat they face is continued habitat loss, approximately a third of the entire Bornean Orangutan range was in commercial forest reserves exploited for timber, and about 45% was in forest areas earmarked for conversion to agriculture or other land uses.
Orangutans are the slowest breeding of all mammal species, giving birth to a single young every 6-8 years. The incredibly long inter-birth period means that a female orangutan can produce a maximum of four surviving young during her lifetime. With such a low reproductive rate even a small decrease in numbers can lead to extinction. Scientists predict that unless immediate action is taken, the two orangutan species could be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild.
- Order: Primates
- Family: Hominidae
- Population: 104,700
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 1.25-1.5m
- Weight: 30-90kg
Bornean Orangutans are endemic to the island of Boreno, in both the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as in four of the five Indonesian Provinces of Kalimanthan: North, East, Central and West Kalimantan.
Habitat and Ecology
Bornean Orangutans’ inhabit primary and secondary forest, typically in lowland dipterocarp, freshwater and peat swamp forests. Orangutans eat, sleep and travel in the trees, being active in the day spending the majority of their time searching for and consuming food. They eat figs, durians, jackfruit, lychees, mangosteens and mangos, as well as leaves, seeds, ants, termites and bark. Females reach sexual maturity at around 10-15 years of age, and generally give birth to a single young every 6-8 years thereafter, depending on the quality of the habitat. The young stay with their mother for almost 7 years. This incredibly long inter-birth period means that orangutans are very susceptible to a population decline.