Orangutans, also called the “gardeners” of the forests, play a vital role in their habitats. As of 2017, orangutans are now classified as critically endangered, with about 119,313 orangutans remaining in the entire world. August 19th is also known as International Orangutan Day. In celebration of the holiday, here are 5 interesting orangutan facts and how you can help save them from extinction.
Orangutans are known to be the only great apes of Asia. They were originally native to Malaysia and Indonesia about 15 million years ago, but can now only be found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
Why are orangutans orange?
The orange-reddish brown colored fur of the orangutan is a result of sunlight reflecting off their fur. In the shade, their tan skin absorbs the light so you only see the dark skin underneath. Camouflage? Experts are still debating this question. This is only one of the most interesting orangutan facts!
Orangutans have the most intense mother-child relationship
Mother orangutans have the most intense relationship with their young of any non-human mammal. During the first eight years of a young orangutan’s life, its mother is its constant companion. Mothers will carry their offspring for the first five years until they are ready to thrive on their own. They will also sleep in their nests with their offspring in a forest canopy nest.
Orangutans love solitude
Orangutans are the most semi-solitary primates in the wild. Their social structure is often described as “solitary but social”. Many adult orangutans will spend most of their time alone or may travel in groups. Females are often seen with their offspring. Most orangutans spend over 90 percent of their time in solitude.
You can only see them in two places in the wild
There are two types of Orangutan species – the Bornean and Sumatran. While both species have shaggy reddish fur, the Sumatran orangutans have longer facial hair. The Sumatran orangutans are also smaller, slightly lighter in color, and have narrower faces in contrast to the Bornean orangutans. Female Sumatrans almost never travel on foot, while the males only do so rarely. Bornean orangutans, especially adult males, will more often be seen on the ground.
Orangutans are ticklish
Did you know they are ticklish? Not the itchy kind, but the type that brings on the giggles? Well, considering that they are one of our closest relatives among animals, it’s a quirky but not surprising fact! They’re also the smartest animals in the world.
Similar to gorillas, orangutans are the most gentle-natured animals among the ape species due to their social structure. They will often be seen sitting for hours simply gazing amongst the forest or at each other. Males can be aggressive, but orangutan attacks on humans are virtually unheard of.
How You Can Help Save Orangutans:
Over one quarter of Indonesia’s forests have disappeared in the past 25 years. This needless destruction drives the conditions that fuel big forest fires. Destroy the tropical rainforest by expanding pulpwood and oil palm plantations, and you destroy the home of the lovable orangutans. Threatened with extinction, the population of the Sumatran orangutan in the wild is thought to have fallen by more than 50% from 1992-2000.
Brands who use palm oil must stop hiding behind promises and pledges, instead they must start delivering real change on the ground to protect forests and prevent another forest fires crisis. To demand real commitments, real timelines and real action to make sure palm oil companies stop putting lives at risk by destroying forest and peatlands, please sign this petition:
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