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  •                  ORANGUTAN FACTS:



  • Length: males - about 40 inches (1metre+) from top of head to rump;

  •               females - about 30 inches (0.75metres)


  • Weight: males -110 to 300 pounds (50-135Kg);

  •               females - 66 to 110 pounds (30 - 50Kg)


  • Life Span: 45 years or more


  • Pregnancy: about 8.5 months


  • Number of Young at Birth: usually only 1 baby


  • Size at Birth: 3.3 to 4.5 pounds (1.5 to 2Kg)


  • Interbirth Interval: 8-9 years (in the wild)


  • Age of Maturity: males - about 15 years;

  •                             females - about 12 (in captivity)


  • Conservation Status

  • Pongo pygmaeus       (Bornean)   critically endangered (re-graded 2016) 

  • Pongo abelii               (Sumatran)  critically endangered

  • Pongo Tapanuliensis (Sumatran)  critically endangered


Orangutan are the largest arboreal mammals in the world and are found only in Borneo and Sumatra. Their preferred habitat is low-lying peat swamp forest, they are rarely found in habitats above 800 metres.


Orangutans are frugivores living principally on fruit but also eating leaves and bark and sometimes insects. There have been a very few reports of orangutan eating very small mammals but this is very unusual. They spend up to 60% of their time each day foraging and eating.


Although actually quite social they are rarely found in groups and it is unusual to find more than one female and one or two babies together in the forest. This is largely due to the fact that their diet necessitates a large range in which to find sufficient food. Orangutan may eat up to 200 different species of plant.


Orangutan have the longest maternal dependancy of any mammal (except, perhaps humans) and a baby orangutan will stay with its mother until it is seven or eight years old. Females do not usually breed below the age of 12 and with a gestation period of approximately nine months most females will usually only have three babies in a lifetime. This slow reproductive rate means that the orangutan populations grow very slowly and take a long time to recover from habitat disturbance and hunting.


Orangutan are unique in many ways - they are the only Great Ape (apart from humans) found outside Africa. They are found exclusively in Malaysia and Indonesia. They are the only 'red' ape and the only strictly arboreal ape meaning that they spend their life high in the canopy of the forest and build nests to sleep in during the day and each night. Other Great Apes - Gorillas, Bonobos and Chimpanzees are known to climb and build nests but spend the majority of their time on the ground. 


Orangutan are highly intelligent and gentle animals and are known to tool use in the wild. They share 96.4% of their DNA with humans.


Traditionally hunting has reduced orangutan numbers and whilst they have some predators (sunbear and clouded leopard) today their biggest predator is still man. Logging and deforestation for agriculture plays its part and hunting is still significant but by far the biggest threat to orangutan habitat is the ever increasing demand for land for palm oil.








                                                          (areas coloured orange)



Current Orangutan Distribution

One of the male orangutan at International Animal Rescue where OVAID works
Temon is a baby orangutan that OVAID team members work with at IAR's rescue centre in Kalimantan
Bonita is one of the orangutan OVAID team members work with at IAR's rescue centre in Ketapang


In Borneo the orangutan was until recently classified as endangerd but in 2016 it's status was upgraded to critically endangered. In Sumatra the situation has been worse for some time and both the species are also critically endangered. (IUCN 'Red List') This now means that all the world's orangutan are classified as critically endangered. In Sumatra the newly discovered Tapanuliensis species is under imminent threat of survival as its total number of only approximately 800 individuals are fragmented into three groups and its habitat threatened by the construction of a hydro electric dam.


Orangutan numbers have decreased from an estimated 350,000 in 1900 to current estimates of less than 100,000 and maybe as low as 50,000 to 60,000. Recent research has estimated that there may be more Sumatran orangutan (14,600+) than previously thought (6,600+) but the subspecies still remains critically endangered.




Estimates show that up to 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years.


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