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The Endangered Orangutan
Threats to the Endangered Orangutan
There are only two species of orangutans living in the wild, the Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii). Both inhabit the rainforests and wetlands of the southeastern regions of Asia. Like many other species that are endangered, "we, the people" are their biggest threat to survival.
The survival of these endangered orangutans in the wild is threatened by all of the following:
- Illegal hunting/poaching due to increasing access to the orangutan's habitat
- Illegal pet trade - the Borneo Orangutan Survival Australia estimates that more than 1,000 orangutans are bought and sold each year, illegal under national laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
- Loss of their habitat due to deforestation, making way for agricultural and other development
- Palm oil plantations on Borneo and Sumatra, the large tropical islands where the only two remaining species of orangutans are found in the wild.
Too Tired to Receive Visitors
Baby Orangutans Bought and Sold Illegally
Everyone has heard the term black market - well, that's where you would illegally buy or sell an orangutan baby. They may fetch a high price, but just remember that every time you buy one of those babies, its protective mother has to be killed.
One reason for the high price - female orangutans give birth only every six to nine years and they are an endangered species, and for every baby animal obtained illegally, five or six adults are killed, adding to the declining numbers of the species as a whole.
The orangutans that are in the United States are bred in captivity, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service offers strict permits that DO NOT include pet ownership. They are the agency that regulates who can and cannot obtain orangutans (only zoological, research and educational institutions).
Orangutans Are Not Monkeys
The orangutan is one of the "great apes", included in that category along with only gorillas, bonobos, and chimpanzees. They are primates, but they are not monkeys. Monkeys have tails; apes do not.
Palm Oil Industry Wreaking Havoc
Palm oil is cheaper than vegetable oil and has a longer shelf life. It is found in everything from food and household products to make-up and other cosmetics. It is also being seriously considered as an alternative to the natural fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) that are (and it's only a matter of time) going to be gone. But, all of those things don't justify it's contribution to the continued decline of several important animal species.
Today, palm oil is grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America. About 85% of all globally-produced palm oil is exported from Indonesia and Malaysia, most of the time using methods that are not sustainable in an industry that has been responsible for animal cruelty, deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, and indigenous rights abuses.
Currently, about a third of all mammal species in Indonesia are considered to be critically endangered as a consequence of the unsustainable development of the palm oil plantations that are rapidly encroaching on their habitat.
Palm Oil Plantations Replacing Forests
Photos of Orangutans in the WildClick thumbnail to view full-size
According to World Wildlife Federation, the Borneo orangutan population is estimated to be between 45,000 to 69,000 while there are less than 8,000 Sumatran orangutans left.
Not in the Wild...But Safe
Illegal Hunting and Poaching
Believe it or not, souvenirs are created (and sold to tourists) out of the skulls of the dead orangutans that are illegally killed. Body parts of the orangutans also end up in medicinal products. These things happen due to the easier access and encroachment of people into the orangutan forest. One of the more recent, and popular prizes for people hunting and poaching orangutans illegally is the penis of the animal.
- http://www.orangutan.com/threats-to-orangutans/ Retrieved 02/20/2018
- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/deforestation-and-orangutans/ Retrieved 02/20/2018
- https://memim.com/borneo-orangutan-survival.html. Retrieved 02/20/2018
- http://www.worldanimalfoundation.org/articles/article/8949999/186251.htm. Retrieved 02/20/2018
- http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Poaching.aspx. Retrieved 02/21/2018
© 2018 Mike and Dorothy McKenney