Why Orangutans Matter
Orangutans are the gardeners of the forest. They play an important role in seed dispersal and maintaining the health of the forest. They are also lovely mammals to observe and have fun around as they are considered the second nature of human beings.
How many orangutans are left in the world?
It is clear that the number of orangutans is significantly reducing. In 2017, there were 104,700 Bornean orangutans and 7,500 Sumatran orangutans left in the world compared to the 230,000 in the past century. The number is significantly reducing as 2000-3000 are killed every year. Another species of the family was discovered in 2017.
The Orangutans’ Life cycle
Orangutans have a very low reproduction rate, which makes them vulnerable to excessive mortality. A female orangutan gives birth to their first baby at the age of 10-15 years. Like human beings, they give birth to one baby and once in a while; twins. They stay with their kids for 7 to 11 years before they let them survive on their own.
Orangutan baby-mother bond
Source: Mail online
The long-time they take before sexual maturity and long periods before births are the cause of the low population of orangutans.
Orangutan Habitat: Where do they live?
In old times, Orangutans used to be spread in the whole of Asia, stretching to the north of China. Unfortunately, deforestation and spread of human beings in Asia have limited their options. They are now remaining in Borneo and Sumatra where tropical forests are still present. Only the two Islands have enough forests to sustain the growth and breeding of Orangutans.
The Growth of Cute Baby Orangutans
Orangutan babies have wrinkled feet, hands, and faces which are thin. Their muscles start to develop when they start jumping on trees. They require a lot of love and help from their mothers. They have large eyes, which open widely after birth. They weigh about two pounds at birth. Their weight increases over the years and at the age of 7 years they weigh around 25 pounds.
Source: Caters news agency
They behave like small human babies; they cry when they are hungry and smile to their mothers. They express all their feelings; surprise, anger, and joy just like us. When you watch them closely, you will find out that they are like human beings.
The Dominance of Male Orangutans
It is interesting to note that female orangutan has preferences when they come to choosing their “men.” The male orangutans have large flappy cheek-pads commonly known as flanges. The “women” prefer male orangutans with flanges.
The male orangutans are also twice the female’s weight and have large throat sacs, characteristics that are seen as signs of dominance. The traits take time to develop. Before they do, the male orangutan looks like its family species. The ones that take long have low testosterone levels according to the Scholar University of Zurich in Switzerland, Pascal Marty.
Interesting Orangutan facts
- The Orangutan weigh up to 100 Kilograms, and they are 1.2m to 1.5m. They have very long arm spans. Male orangutans can stretch their arms up to 2m from fingertip to toes!
- The orangutans are the closest primates to the human race. In fact, they share 97% of human DNA. Their name is derived from the word, “orang hutan” means “human of the forest”.
- Orangutans spend a significant time of their lives swinging from tree to tree using their hook-shaped, long, strong arms. They sleep in lifted leaves to protect themselves from animals like big cats and leopards.
- Orangutans are day time eaters, and they mainly eat leaves and fruits. They also eat tree barks, nuts, insects and once in a while spice up their meals with bird eggs.
- They are red-haired and mainly reside in the southeast of Asia, especially the tropical forests of Sumatra and Borneo.
- They are different from bonobos, gorillas and chimpanzees and other great apes in that they do not spend time with groups. You will find female orangutan in the company of one or two babies while the male species love to enjoy the time alone.
- Female orangutans give birth to only one baby every eight years. They stay with their babies teaching them new skills until the age of 6 or 7 to survive on their own. There is, therefore, a very special bond between the mother and kids.
- Orangutans make a lot of noise that can be heard miles away. Mostly, the noise is mainly made by males to chase foreigners in their territory.
- The orangutans have long lives just like human beings. In the wild, they can live an average of 30-40 years and 50-60 years in captivity.
- Unfortunately, there are among the endangered species in the world due to deforestation.
Why Orangutan is endangered (Orangutan Conservation)
The main factors endangering the existence of Orangutans are the human activities destroying their remaining tropical forests. Initially, there were large forests in South Asia where they could roam freely. This has been reduced by human activities especially those who depend on forests for survival. The activities include poaching, fires, and deforestation which is slowly reducing the population of Orangutans. Palm oil plantations, villages, and cities are also decreasing the occupation of the Orangutans.
One step in preparing plantations is to burn the land. Over the years, many fires have gone out of control killing Orangutans as they have nowhere to escape to. Poaching of Orangutans is illegal, but due to the high amounts of money earned from their poaching, it is hard to control them. Mature orangutans are eaten while baby orangutans are used as exotic pets.
Understanding the relationship between the environment and orangutans is the first step of orangutan conservation. Curbing these activities can save the lives of many orangutans.
Final Verdict on Orangutans
Orangutans have been there for more than 100 years. They are interesting mammals because they share 97% of human DNA. They are clever and have the ability to reason like human beings. Orangutans, especially male species love to stay alone. They take their time before making decisions, but they are very accurate when they do.
Unfortunately, their population is significantly reducing due to unnatural courses such as fires during land preparation for plantations, cities, deforestation, and poaching. Regulating this activities can help reduce the deaths.