International Orangutan Day

Eye to eye with orangutan.

The Orangutan has become a renowned victim of the palm oil industry much to the sadness of many. As an inhabitant of the rich tropical forests of Borneo and Sumatra, deforestation has gravely endangered these intelligent animals. International Orangutan Day has been established in order to raise the all important awareness of the threats which Orangutan’s face and is in hope of bolstering the protection efforts undertaken. 


Here are four facts you might not know about the magnificent creature, four threats they face which worsen their endangerment and four ways you can help.

4 Facts You May Not Know

1. The word ‘orangutan’ comes from the Malay language meaning ‘person of the forest’

2. There are three species of orangutans: the Bornean, Sumatran, and Tapanuli. All three are endangered today.

3. You share around 97% of your very own D.N.A. with the orangutan. This makes them one of mankind’s closest relatives. They are practically family… 

4. The orangutan male prefers to be on its own. Unlike most big apes who live in groups, the orangutan seems to settle for a more solitary lifestyle

4 Threats To Survival 

1. The loss of their rainforest habitat through clearing for timber or palm oil is a major threat which the orangutan faces today. Rainforests are often destroyed by illegal logging and fires. In North Sumatra- where the Sumatran orangutan resides- the focus is on the expansion of palm oil plantations. 

2. Habitat fragmentation is also a threat in itself even if this is more minor in nature it has its affiliated problems. Simply cutting a road through the rainforest can reduce the orangutan population as they are less inclined to leave the trees and cross open areas.

3. Hunting and the killing of the orangutan still occurs today, even if it has, thankfully, drastically decreased and is being better kept hidden. In some parts of Borneo they are still allegedly being hunted to be eaten and some are still killed by man-made fires or killed deliberately by farmers and shot if they trespass farmland to steal food. 

4. Illegal trading and exotic pet trade has many problems for the orangutan where the orangutan finds itself in people’s homes as a pet or into the black market. 

4 Ways You Can Help:

1. Avoid unsustainable palm oil! Check your food product labels- don’t buy anything which contains unethically sourced palm oil. 

2. Buy products such as paper and wood which have been endorsed as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as these will come from more sustainable forestry methods.

3. Spread the word and share awareness online! Repost anything you see on social media or even start a fundraiser yourself. Raising public awareness is key. 

4. Adopt an orangutan! There are many sites where you can do this. Your sponsorship may ensure that your adopted orangutan has a cared for experience in a sanctuary or is funded to be released back into the wild. One site: Orangutan Outrage takes on this programme- become an adoptive parent here

Images from Shutterstock


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