Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Orangutans(PONGO PYGMAEUS) are large apes that live in Southeast Asia (on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra). These apes mostly live in trees (they are arboreal) and swing from branch to branch using their arms. The word orangutan means "man of the forest" in the Malay language. As its habitats are being disturbed by man, the orangutan's population is decreasing and it is in grave danger of extinction.

Orangutans have a large, bulky body, a thick neck, very long, strong arms, short, bowed legs, and no tail. They are about 2/3 the size of the gorilla. They are mostly covered with long reddish-brown hair and have large head with a prominent mouth area. Adult males have large cheek flaps (which get larger as the ape ages). Grows around 5ft.tall and weigh up to 200 pounds, females are half the size. Orangutans have senses very similar to ours, including hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Orangutan hands are very much like ours; they have four long fingers plus an opposable thumb. Their feet have four long toes plus an opposable big toe. Orangutans can grasp things with both their hands and their feet. The largest males have an arm span of about 7.5 feet (2.3 m).

Orangutans are mainly vegetarian. By age of 10, they can identify up to 200 different fruit plants They eat fruit (their favourite food), durians, figs, mangoes, leaves, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They also eat insects and small animals (like birds and small mammals). Must eat vast quantity to survive and spend half of their day searching for food. Orangutans don't even have to leave their tree branches to drink; they drink water that has collected in the holes between tree branches.

Orangutans are very intelligent. They have been known to use found objects as tools; for example, they use leaves as umbrellas to keep the rain from getting them wet. They also use leaves as cups to help them drink water. BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL HABITSOrangutans are shy, solitary animals that are active during the day .They live alone in large territories. This is probably due to their eating habits; they need a large area in order to get enough food and too many orangutans in one area might lead to starvation. The only long-lasting orangutan social group is the mother and offspring, who live together for about 7 years. When mating, the male and female orangutan stays together for only a few days.

Each evening, orangutans construct a "nest" in the tree branches for the night in which they will curl up and sleep. These nests are made out of leaves and branches. Nests are shared by a mother and her nursing offspring. Sometimes, the orangutan will use a leaf as a "roof" to protect itself from the rain. Orangutans often nap in the afternoon after a morning spent obtaining food.

Male orangutans are capable of very long, loud calls that carry through forests for up 1 km. The "long call" is made up of a series of sounds followed by a bellow. These calls help the male claim his territory, call to females, and keep out intruding male orangutans. Males have a large throat sac that lets them make these loud calls.

Orangutans usually move by swinging from one branch to another; this is called brachiating. Orangutans can also walk using their legs (but rarely do). Orangutans do not swim. LIFE SPANOrangutans live about 50 years in captivity; their life span in the wild up to 40 years (like most animals, they live longer in captivity).

Orangutans live in tropical rain forests.

Orangutans are mature and capable of reproducing beginning when they are 7 to 10 years old. Females are pregnant for 8.5 to 9 months and give birth to a single baby. Young orangutans are weaned from their mothers at about 6-7 years of age.

Population: approximately 46,500
Distribution: Indonesia, Malaysia
Orangutans are an endangered species. They are decreasing in numbers quickly as they lose habitat to people (agriculture and oil palm plantations). Further aggravating the problem, baby orangutans are caught and sold around the world as pets.

Sandakan - Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre

Gentle and shy by nature, sightings of orang utan in the wild are rare. However, one place you are guaranteed of seeing them is at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre. The world's largest orang utan (Man of the Forest) sanctuary is just 40 minutes away from downtown Sandakan. To visit, take a taxi or "Sepilok" buses from the station near Central Market in Sandakan.

The Sanctuary started in 1964 for rehabilitation of orphaned baby orang utans from logging-sites, plantations and illegal hunting, returning them to the wilds as soon as they're ready. More than 4,500 hectares of virgin jungle were designated as forest reserve and sanctuary for these charming creatures.Touching these creatures is discouraged to prevent the spread of human diseases to the creatures. There are some who have grown so fond of human company that they refuse to return to the wilds. Other semi-wild orang utans come to the Sanctuary twice daily from the forest for feeding of milk and bananas.



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