Orangutans are great apes and one of the most intelligent species of animals on Earth. There are two species of orangutans, the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan, and each species is considered to be endangered. The Sumatran orangutan is listed as critically endangered and there are thought to be less than 7,000 left in the wild. The Bornean orangutan is listed as endangered and about 55,000 are thought to be left in the wild. Both of these species are in decline and there are concerns that they could become extinct in the future. Let’s find out why the orangutans are endangered and what is being done to save them.
Why are orangutans endangered?
Humans have played the largest part in the reduction in the numbers of orangutans in the wild. Hunting is a major problem and orangutans are often killed: for bushmeat, by farmers who are protecting their crops or for use in traditional medicine. The bones of the orangutans are also a prized illegal souvineir. Some adult females are also killed so their infants can be sold in the pet trade. Habitat destruction is also another major problem with logging and land clearing being the most concerning because orangutans spend most of their time in trees. Creating roads through forests is also a problem because it isolates the populations of wild animals. Forest fires are also a major threat to these animals. As the population dwindles the chance of inbreeding, which causes a lack of genetic diversity, is also possible.
There are many organizations dedicated to the survival of the two orangutan species. Large areas of forest are being protected to avoid habitat loss and wildlife parks are working to ensure the safety and survival of these great apes. Conservationists are working with locals to educate them on the importance of these animals. Captive breeding programs may also be important in the future to ensure genetic diversity.