Hello from Sumatra. Did you know that this is the world’s 6th largest island (and Indonesia’s largest overall)? The fact that it is an island in the tropics has also made it an interesting place to discover indigenous plant and animal species. Say hello (or OOO AAAA OOO AAA) to the orangutan. Their habitat ranges only in the islands of Borneo (the world’s third largest island consisting of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) and yes you guessed it, Sumatra. Let’s learn more about our distant relatives.
Orangutans are have long reddish-brown hair that make them recognizable from other primates. Males are also easily distinguishable from the females, mainly from their large cheek flaps which gets larger and larger as the males age. Orangutans can live up to 35 years old in the wild and even as long as 60 years in captivity.
Not surprisingly, a full grown male orangutan standing up (1.2 meters – 1.5 meters) is almost as tall as a human being. And weight-wise (35 kilograms – 82 kilograms), almost like a human being as well. And there are more similar traits these guys share with us. Look at their hands. It is eerily similar to ours in shape, size and look. And not only that, just like other primates (including us) they are more than capable of using tools.
Like us, they are herbivores. Meaning they eat both plants and animals. Their main diet however consists of fruits and the sugary and pulpy ones seem to be their favorites. Other times, they’ll consume tree bark, young leaves, insects, honey and bird eggs.
Unfortunately, these guys are critically endangered. One of the main reasons is human development. Jungle has given way to farmlands, cities and towns. There are an estimated 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, about 54,000 are distributed throughout Borneo and a mere 6,000 or so in Sumatra.
While in the Sumatran jungle, you stand a very good chance of seeing one with us. It is also an excellent opportunity for you to learn about these unique and wonderful animals and even get up close with our distant relatives.
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