The Orangutan Species

There are three different species of orangutans including the Bornean, the Sumatran and the Tapanuli orangutans, and they are all unique. 

Orangutans live in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. They weigh up to 200 pounds and stand 4 to 5 feet tall. In the wild, orangutans can live anywhere from 30 to 40 years of age. Orangutans are a critically endangered species. The Tapanuli orangutan is in fact the most endangered of all the great apes. The Tapanuli orangutan was just recently discovered in 2017. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are approximately 104,700 Bornean orangutans, 13,846 Sumatran orangutans and 800 Tapanuli orangutans left in the world. 

Orangutans face many threats including the illegal wildlife trade, deforestation and hunting. Many orangutans live in unprotected areas of the forests which increases the threat to their safety. Females are hunted more than males as they often have infants with them. Similarly to many other types of primates, if a baby orangutan is caught its chances of survival are slim. Baby orangutans are often kept as pets or sold for profit. 

Orangutans share 96.4% of their DNA with humans — so as we’re beginning to learn, primates are incredibly similar to us for obvious reasons. 

Orangutans have a diet consisting of leaves, fruit, tree bark, insects and (more rarely) meat. Male orangutans often have prominent cheek pads known as flanges, though not every male will have this feature. Male orangutans without flanges can (for unknown reasons) develop into flanged males. We’re still learning about this unique characteristic to better understand why this occurs. 

All three species of orangutans look similar with their ginger coats however they do have their differences too. Bornean orangutans have darker fur and rounder faces. Sumatran orangutans have longer facial hair and are usually thinner than the Bornean orangutans. The Tapanuli orangutan looks most similar to the Sumatran orangutan, however the Tapanuli species has lighter, longer fur and a more frizzy coat. 

Orangutans are not only beautiful but they are very intelligent too. With your help, we can ensure the survival of this magnificent species. 

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