World Conservation and Wildlife Trust

Fighting to protect the World's Marine Life, Wildlife, Biodiversity and Population.

The Orangutan

General information on the orangutan

The orangutan is exclusive to the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. Known for their intelligence and close human relations, the orangutan is one of the most intelligent of the great apes, using the most sophisticated forest tools. Orangutans are non-violent animals and live a solitary life gathering food and building nests high up in trees.

The orangutan can reach a height of 1.5 m and can weigh anything between 33-110 kg. their feet have four long toes and an opposable big toe. They have large bulky bodies made to manoevre through trees. Adult males tend to grow cheek flaps that shows dominance towards other males. The orangutan can live up to 50 years in the wild.


The orangutans diet mainly consists of fruits with fatty or sugary pulp. Ficus fruits are prefered as they are easy to digest. Despite this the orangutan can eat up to 317 different food items including leaves, bark, honey and insects. Orangutans' high level of intelligence means they can learn about certain foods that combat illnesses such as commelina (used for anti-inflamatory balm).

Reasons for endangerment

The Sumatran orangutan is classified as critically endangered along with the Bornean orangutan which is classed as endangered by the I.U.C.N. Red List of Endangered Species. The threats to the orangutan include severe habitat destruction to make way for palm oil plantations and poaching for traditional medicines, to keep the babies as pets or just for bushmeat.

Article by RHN.