The term "orangutan" is derived from two Malay and Indonesian words: "orang" (human) and "hutan" (forest). Thus, orangutan means "forest human."
Orangutan populations are severely depleted. In fact, the species has been called "the most endangered mammal on Earth." Only about 15,000 individuals of this species remain. Most live in forests in Indonesia and Malaysia.
People have been hunting orangutans for their meat and skins since ancient times. At one point, they even used orangutans as slave labor. During World War II, orangutans were used as experimental subjects in medical studies. Although this practice ended, many today believe that orangutans are still being experimented on in captivity.
Today, there are three main factors that threaten the survival of the orangutan: deforestation, oil palm plantations, and capture for use in entertainment or research. Deforestation removes orangutans' habitat and can lead to conflict with humans over the remaining trees. Oil palm plantations require large amounts of land and cause deforestation and orangutans to move away from their natural habitats. Capture is happening when people illegally hunt the animals down for their meat and bones which are used in traditional Asian medicine.
Orang means "human" in Malay and Indonesian, while utan is derived from hutan, which means "forest." As a result, orangutan literally means "forest person." Orangutans' arms are longer than their body, stretching almost two metres from fingertip to fingertip, and they are accustomed to using a "hookgrip." This grip allows them to swing through the trees with great force and accuracy.
The orangutan's brain is about one-third the size of a human being's, but it still manages to control all the same muscles. This brain-body connection enables the orangutan to perform complex tasks such as finding food or avoiding danger. Although orangutans can be found in forests across South-East Asia, most live in Indonesia. There are only an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 individuals left in the wild.
Indonesia is a large country with diverse wildlife, and each region has its own unique animals including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals. The island of Borneo is home to orangutans but also includes species such as pygmy elephants, siamangs, and binturongs. Sumatra has its own unique animal life including rhinos, elephants, and tigers. Java has its own unique animals including leaf monkeys, langurs, and crested macaques. And Sulawesi has its own unique animal life including pythons, lizards, and cobras.
The term "orangutan" is derived from Malay/Indonesian language that loosely translate to "forest person." The orangutan has a large torso, long, thin arms, and small legs. It is one of the few primate species that does not have a tail. They also have huge heads. The brain of an orangutan is about 1/3 the size of its body weight; therefore, it's very sensitive to stress. Orangutans are native to the forests of Indonesia but now they are also found in Malaysia and Singapore.
An orangutan can weigh up to 140 pounds (63 kg), stand over 3 feet (1 m) tall, and live up to 40 years. Female orangutans have two babies every two years who stay with her for three years before moving on their own. Male orangutans usually leave their family groups after 10 years old and look for new families to join. They often travel far away from home in search of new places to live.
There are only about 5000 to 7500 orangutans left in the world today. Most of them live in Borneo and Sumatra. The main threat to orangutans is deforestation. Old growth forest is being replaced with oil palm plantations which are less dense than the older forests so more light reaches the ground below. This allows farmers to grow crops such as oil palms that require less sunlight than most trees.
Orangutan from Sumatra. The Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of three orangutan species. It is rarer than the Bornean orangutan but more frequent than the recently discovered Tapanuli orangutan, which is also found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Its popular name is derived from two distinct local terms, namely "orang" for person and "tapa" for skin. Although both the Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are classified as endangered, they represent two separate evolutionary lines that became separated long ago.
Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), which can be found in forests across the central part of Borneo. The population here is much larger at about 70,000 individuals.
The IUCN lists the Bornean orangutan as "endangered". This means that it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild because of human activity. There are many factors that can cause the extinction of a species, but mainly it depends on how soon its members go extinct. If all members of a species die then it will be extinct. However, if some survive then there would be survivors who could continue the species. Or perhaps the species could evolve and adapt new traits that allow it to live in different environments.
In 2007, it was estimated that there were still about 70,000 Bornean orangutans left.
Where can you find orangutans? These apes are indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia. Orangutans are known as "man of the jungles" in the Malay language. These animals are solitary dwellers. Orang-utans are found mostly in peat swamp forests in mountainous lowland marshy environments. They also like to climb into tree for a better view or get away from people.
These majestic creatures have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are now only about 5,000 orangutans left in the wild. The main cause of death for orangutans is being caught and sold into captivity for entertainment or research.
They are captured by traders who then sell them on or near Bangkok where there are still many tourists who buy these primates as a novelty item. There are several sanctuaries where captive born orangutans can be adopted.
Orangutans can only be found on the Southeast Asian islands that bear their name. The Sumatran orangutan is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Its distribution is currently restricted to the island's northwestern tip. Bornean orangutans are only found on the island of Borneo. Their distribution extends into southern Malaysia and Brunei. Thus, orangutans are not only endemic to Indonesia but also to Borneo.
The third great ape in Southeast Asia is the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Like the orangutan, it is found only in Indonesia: on Sulawesi. However, its range is much smaller - about 700 square miles (1,800 square kilometers) - and it is estimated that only 5,000 to 8,000 individuals remain. No chimp population exists outside Indonesia.
In Africa, there are three species of monkey: the baboon (Papio anubis), the colobus (Colobus guereza) and the macaque (Macaca sylvanus). All are found in tropical climates across Africa except for the baboon, which is restricted to the Sahara desert region.
In America, there are two species of monkey: the brown capuchin (Cebus apella) and the pygmy marmoset (Callithrix penicillata). Both are found in South America.