Wild Sumatran orangutan credit Greg Hume

Orangutans are often animals high on the list that people wish to see one day. Orangutans are the only great ape that lives outside Africa. While fossils show that at one time, it was found on the mainland of Asia, the Orangutan is now restricted to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.


There are 3 species of Orangutan and their conservation status varies dramatically. The Orangutan was first scientifically described in 1779 by Dutch anatomist Petrus Camper.


Until only 1997 it was thought that there was only 2 species of Orangutan, but the Tapanuli Orangutan lives on the island of Sumatra, but is closer related to the Borneo orangutan. One sad thing, is that there is a dam which is planned to be built, and if completed would remove 90% of the species remaining habitat – likely leading to its extinction. In 2020 its planning was paused for 3 years, which means that it should be getting going again later this year. I cannot see any recent articles on this subject, but will write on it when I find some.


As with all great apes, the Orangutan is a keystone species and by saving its habitat, we save many thousands more as a by-product. The greatest threat has been palm oil plantations – while in theory these are created to reduce carbon emissions, it is questionable as to whether these plantations could ever be carbon negative. Building it on land that has to be cleared of rainforest, means that these palm oil plantations will have huge carbon footprints, which are likely to take over a century to pay off. As such it is not useful for climate change mitigation.


As always, we hope to add many destinations for Orangutans in the near future, do get in touch if you wish to list somewhere in their range

Below, any listings that might get added in the future, you will find all the articles we have written on Orangutans

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