More than 25 orangutans die each day, and the Sumatran and Bornean populations have fallen by more than 50% in the last decade alone. Hence the reason for shining the spotlight on this highly endangered species on August 19 each year for World Orangutan Day.
The main threat to the future existence of these special creatures is the total and utter destruction of their earthly home on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The rainforests in these areas are being decimated by the palm oil industry. This substance is used in the manufacturing of everyday products consumed by people all over the globe.
Maybe it’s prophetic then that according to Indonesian mythology that, despite orangutans’ ability to speak, they choose not to out of fear that they will be forced to work if they were ever caught.
Did you know?
World Orangutan Day 2020
1. Orangutan DNA is similar to humans
Human beings share almost 97 % of their DNA with orangutans, whose name come from the Malay words “orang hutan”, which means “human of the forest”.
2. They are the heaviest tree-dwellers
They are heaviest tree-dwelling animal, weighing up to 100 kilograms with an arm span of more than two metres.
3. Orangutans are solitary primates
These primates are more solitary compared to their cousins like chimpanzees and gorillas, with males tending to go it alone and females attending to a singular baby, or at most two.
4. Baby orangutans cry
Baby orangutans cry when they are hungry and make whimpering sounds when they are hurt.
5. They are the swinging primate
Orangutans spend most of their time swinging from branch to branch and even make nests of leaves for sleeping.
6. Orangutans have a long lifespan
They have a relatively long lifespan, reaching up to 40 years of age in the wild and almost 60 years in captivity.
7. They howl loudly
The species’ howls and bellows can be heard kilometres away, and it is especially males that warn others to stay out their territory.
8. Many orangutans are missing their big toe nail
About a third of orangutans don’t have nails on their big toes.
9. They use twigs to forage for food
Their daily foraging consists mainly of fruit, leaves, and termites they get hold of by digging twigs into holes.
10. Some orangutans are said to have empathy
There is scientific evidence that orangutans can display individual personalities while some have a sense of empathy.