Orang-Utan means ‘forest man’ – a very suitable name for the largest of the tree dwelling apes; a large male can weigh 90 kg.
Orang-utan live in Sumatera and in Kalimantan. They are very gentle animals and live quite lives several metres off the ground. Their spend their time moving from meal to meal by passing.from tree to tree, swinging rather than jumping, using their long arms to carefully reach out across the gaps between trees.
It is thought that there are about 150.000 wild orang-utans, but only about 20.000 are in reserves and safely protected from danger. The main threat to the orang-utans comes from logging companies, or from people who illegally capture and sell orang-utans as pets. The logging companies exploit the living rain forests for timber, but in doing so destroy the environment for the orang-utans. The orang-utans need dense forest so that they can easily move from tree to tree in search of food. The destruction of the rain forest could also bring about the extinction of the orang-utan. They cannot last without dense living forest.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, the trade in orang-utans for zoos and as pets was a major problem. The mothers were killed and the young orang-utans were taken. Many of these young orang-utans died when they were removed from their forest surroundings. This illegal trade still continues today, but the loss is not as great as it used to be in the past.
In the wild the orang-utans’ daily routine begin shortly after drawn. They are vegetarians and have no natural enemies in the forest apart from man. they move through the forest, collecting fruit, nuts, bark, and leaves. At night they build a temporary shelter in the trees, taking 20-30 minutes to build a stable bed of branches. Sometimes, they even build a roof over their bed to keep out the rain. These apes are very intelligent animals, able to remember details of their territory and predict when particular trees will produce fruit.
Since 1928 nearly 900 orang-utans have been born in captivity and through many have died young, others have lived to be over 40 years of age. The main problem that orang-utan have in captivity is that they are housed in small cages instead of being free to wander through the forest.