location - Indonesia.
The future of the world’s orangutans is in trouble. Their forest homes are being destroyed by illegal loggers and for palm oil plantations. While much of their habitat has already been destroyed in Indonesia and Malaysia, there is still hope for these great apes if we act soon.
Orangutans are very intelligent mammals and are closely related to people. In fact, humans and orangutans share almost 97% of their DNA. There are three different species of orangutan. All three species are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. There are less than 120 000 orangutans left in the wild, and they are only found in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo.
Orangutans have low reproductive rates, which means that only a few babies are born each year. This is because young orangutans usually spend between seven and 11 years with their mothers, which means the age gap between two babies from the same mother can be up to 10 years. Their low reproductive rates mean that it will take a long time for their numbers to increase again.
Orangutans play an important role in keeping their tropical forests healthy. They eat a lot of fruit, and through their faeces, help to spread the seeds throughout the forest. Healthy forests are very important because they help to prevent water runoff and soil erosion, and they help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Orangutans are very clever and creative animals. But, because of deforestation, the future of these great apes is uncertain.
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Why are Orangutans Endangered?
One of the biggest threats to orangutans is the palm oil industry. Palm oil is the most popular plant oil in the world. 90% of all palm oil plantations are found in Indonesia and Malaysia, in the same area as the only habitat of wild orangutans.
In order to create a palm oil plantation, large areas of rainforest have to be cleared. This is often done by using man made fires. Orangutans can be caught in the fires, or they are forced to move to a new area with less food, where many starve and have even lower reproductive rates.
Illegal logging is another major threat to orangutans. Illegal logging occurs when people cut down trees inside national parks and sell the timber. Illegal logging destroys orangutans’ habitats, leaving them with nowhere to live and no food to eat.
Other threats to orangutans include the building of roads, mining, illegal hunting and illegal animal trade.
Who Should Be Protected?
Protecting orangutans is a very complicated matter. Orangutans live in areas where a lot of the local people are from poor villages. Illegal logging and palm oil plantations offer these people the opportunity to make money and support their families. However, these actions are threatening orangutans. In order to protect them, illegal logging and palm oil production need to stop, but this means the villages will lose their source of income. To successfully protect the orangutans, both the orangutans and the local people need to be considered.
What Can Be Done?
But, there is always more that can be done. Some ways that you can help are to:
By working together, we can secure the future of orangutans and support the people who share their forest home.