The orang-utan is arguably one of mankind’s closest living relatives and yet our actions are helping to ensure that this incredible ape is on the brink of extinction in the wild.
With as much of 80% of its native forest habitat destroyed in the last 20 years there are only around 20,000 of these creatures remaining in the wild, an alarming situation made even more pressing when you consider that this is in the region of 50% fewer than a mere 10 years ago. At present, the orang-utan is expected to survive in the wild for just 20 years before it faces extinction.
The largest animal to live in trees, the orang-utan population has been hit particularly hard by logging operations which have forced them to flee to ever more crowded and isolated areas resulting in starvation, lower birth rates and social disruption. Clearance operations put in place to enable agricultural use of land together with forest fires and the proliferation of palm-oil plantations have also taken their toll and an estimated 80% of all forests in Indonesia and Malaysia have now been destroyed.
Coupled with the destruction of their habitat, these great apes are also hunted for the pet trade and for bush meat and their decline is exacerbated by their unusually slow reproductive cycle – on average orang-utans produce one baby every 8 years.
Incredibly intelligent, they are one of the only animals to have been observed using improvised tools during their daily activities.
Orang-utan comes from the Malay for “person of the forest” and this begs the question – for how much longer? If you adopt an orang-utan you will be making a real contribution to their long term survival.