Wild orangutan population declining

September 7th, 2007

These photos are of Sumatran orangutans at my local zoo. The photo above is a female with her hand raised to beg from zookeepers. The photo below is of a male orangutan (with throat pouch) who is cooling off by a stream of water on a hot day.

Because of destructive human activities, the wild orangutan population may have diminished by as much as 50 percent over the last decade, according to Orangutan Foundation International. Orangutans are found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and they are endangered.

Their tropical rain forest habitat has been partially destroyed by logging, mining, conversion of land for agriculture to support the palm oil industry and road construction. Some habitat has also been destroyed by natural means, such as fire. Sadly, some locals hunt and eat orangutans. Even though it’s illegal, some locals also keep orangutans as pets.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas has lived among and studied orangutans. I highly recommend her book, Reflections of Eden: My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo. She gave up a lot to live in the rain forest with these apes, and she has studied them more closely than anyone. Not many people would put up with the bugs and slimy creatures that she has in order to study these primates.

The Orangutan Foundation (with President Birute Mary Galdikas) is doing a lot to help orangutans (including fighting illegal logging and releasing ex-captive orangutans into protected land). Please read more about their efforts and how you can support them.

9 Responses to “Wild orangutan population declining”

  1. sam on September 7, 2007 4:42 pm

    I know you have a greater purpose for this post, and I DO care about declining species, but I have to tell you: The first thing out of my mouth, when I saw the top photo in my RSS reader was “Oh, wow!” You take great photos to help illustrate your posts!

  2. chocmoon on September 7, 2007 7:04 pm

    Thank you Sam!

  3. Jennie (NiennaC from AW) on September 7, 2007 10:23 pm

    I can’t believe some people keep orangutans as pets…I just don’t get it.

  4. chocmoon on September 7, 2007 10:38 pm

    Sadly, it’s not just the locals who do this. Orangutans are sometimes smuggled out of the country as well. And the mothers have to be killed before the baby orangutans can be taken away. The reproductive cycle of these primates is slow, so you can see why they are endangered with all they have going against them.

    The book I mentioned gives a lot of insight into why some of the locals keep these apes as pets.

  5. TNuckles on December 26, 2007 4:05 am

    My husband and I actually know this Orangutan. Her name is “Chickie” and this is the Memphis Zoo. We have taken many pictures of her. Her begging is frequent with those of us who know her! She is great to visit. The males name is “Tombak” and he is a sweet orang. His mate is “Puti” and she doesn’t socialize much. Her baby she had a few years ago is in Houston Zoo with a surrogate named Cheyenne.

  6. chocmoon on December 26, 2007 4:21 am

    Thanks for visiting my blog TNuckles!

    You are so fortunate to know these apes. I admire primates very much and would love to work with them, but I’m not sure I’m cut out for it.

    Thanks for letting me know the history.

  7. Hayley on August 12, 2008 7:46 am

    i am so upset that people keep orangutans for pets..i am currently writing an essay for why they shouldnt be kept as pets and since doing some research i have really begun to feel for these beautiful creatures.How can i help?? Is there really anything i can do?

  8. Peggy on August 12, 2008 2:00 pm

    Hayley, the Orangutan Foundation has some ways you can help

  9. Light Green Stairs Turns One « Light green stairs on August 29, 2008 12:36 am

    […] Wild orangutan population declining […]

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