If Julia Roberts fell in love with these ginger-head beauties, why can’t we? We often see them in theme parks, in zoos and some of them are movie stars!
The only one, of the four great apes, that comes from Asia and to be more precise – only from our region. Orangutans are found only in Malaysia and Indonesia; endemic to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. This geographical gap also separates them as 2 distinct species.
What’s in a name? Indigenous peoples of Indonesia and Malaysia call this ape "Orang Hutan" – “Orang” means person and “hutan” means forest, so "Man of the Forest". Legend has it that in the past, locals would not kill them because they thought the orangutan was actually a person hiding in the trees -- trying to avoid having to go to work or become a slave. *I think so too!*
They are special. Orangutans are highly intelligent with ability to reason and think. They share 97% of the same DNA with us. *Oh my! That’s why my neighbor looks familiar!* Orangutans are the largest tree-living mammals in the world. Even their bright reddish brown hair color is unique in the ape world! They can live up to 35-40 years in the wild and sometimes more than 50 in captivity.
What’s for dinner? Scientists are thinking that the orangutans must have a very detailed map of the forest in their mind -- And detailed knowledge of the fruiting cycles of many species of trees. The mothers must teach the babies what food to eat, where to find that food, in which trees and during which seasons. Their diet is made up of bark, leaves, flowers, a variety of insects, and most importantly, over 300 kinds of fruit! *I want to see photos of vegetarians please.*
You clever, you! When it rains really hard; they make an umbrella out of big leaves! When water is difficult to get, they chew leaves to make a sponge to soak up water in tree holes. Orangutans also make tools to help them search for food!
Calling for help. Bornean species of orangutans is highly endangered, and the Sumatran species is critically endangered. The Borneo population is estimated at about 50,000 in the wild, while the Sumatran species is estimated at 7,000-7,500. Only 20% of their habitat is left.
*start of rant* Illegal loggers are destroying their habitat. And those goddam miners too! I also don’t understand why people burn the forests? Nothing better to do? And those poachers! Do you know that they have to kill the mother of the baby Orangutan before they can steal it? Oh those b*stards! Why don’t they just sell their own babies as pets? BISEAN advocates the castration of illegal wildlife traders. Cut their balls and feed it to the crocodiles! *end of rant*
One blog post won’t hurt.
The Orangutans – citizens of Southeast Asia.
Previously Featured SE Asian Rare Species:
*The KOMODO Dragons of Indonesia, *BUTAAN: Lost Dragons of the Philippines, *CAMBODIAN KOUPREY: Do They Still Exist?, *TARSIERS: The Adorable Little Hunters
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