Orangutans are the only great apes to occur outside of Africa, and are the largest arboreal mammals in the world.
They are extremely intelligent, and have shown evidence of tool use and culture – traits once believed to be uniquely human. Despite being one of our closest relatives, human activities are having a devastating impact on the Sumatran orangutan and its habitat. They are the slowest breeding of all mammals, with mothers caring for their young for up to 7 years. With such a low reproductive rate, even a small decrease in numbers can lead to extinction. There are only two species in its genus Pongo, the other being the Bornean orangutan. They show more tool-use than their Bornean sister species; collecting a ‘toolbox’ over their lives. Its major threats include the destruction of its lowland rainforest habitat into palm oil plantations and agriculture, logging for timber, creation of new roads as well as some being killed by humans, or taken into the illegal pet trade. Concerted conservation efforts are needed to prevent this peaceful primate from being the first great ape to become extinct in the wild.
- Order: Primates
- Family: Hominidae
- Population: 14,613
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 1.4m
- Weight: 100kg
Only found in pockets of forests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The Sumatran orangutan is restricted to remaining patches of rainforest in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Most remaining populations occur in and around Gunung Leuser National Park near Aceh; a protected area around 10,950km² in area.
Habitat and Ecology
These organgutans inhabit lowland tropical rainforests and swamps up to 800m above sea level. They are almost exclusively arboreal, unlike the Bornean orangutans who travel on the ground more often. They primarily eat fruit, though they also eat leaves, seeds, flowers, insects, bark, and infrequently the meat of slow loris.