Who is it?
The Malayan language calls the orangutan “man of the forest” (this is the meaning of the expression “orang hutan”. Of the great apes, it is the one that spends the most time in trees.
Its arms, which have reddish and brownish fur, are long (these upper limbs allow them to lead a predominantly tree-dwelling life). Organgutans are powerful, chubby and short-legged. There is great sexual dimorphism between males and females: the former have very pronounced cheeks, unlike the latter.
Lowland rainforests are its natural habitat. The current population is estimated to be about 15,000 individuals. Its range was traditionally Indonesia and Malaysia, though nowadays it’s only found in the northwest of Sumatra and in strongholds on the island of Borneo.
What are its habits?
The mothers give birth to a single infant, which happens in cycles of between four and eight years. Gestation lasts about eight-and-a-half months. The female carries the infant, which is not weaned until it is three years old. The female organutan reaches sexual maturity at the age of 12 years, while the male is not considered an adult until he is 15.
Solitary and intelligent, they have developed their own extraordinary culture which they transmit from generation to generation. They can make their own tools. Socially, they are very independent, albeit the females sometimes gather in groups of four or five individuals.
They feed mainly on fruit though they complement their diet with plant shoots and leaves.
Did you know…
They are in danger of extinction due to destruction of their habitat (indiscriminate felling, mining, forest fires). They are also captured illegally to be sold as pets. Poachers don’t hesitate to kill the mothers to take their infants.