Orangutan Day: the curiosities of the largest climbing mammal on the planet

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Each August 19th is celebrated on World Day Orangutan, the climbing mammal largest on the planet, with the aim of raise awareness in humanity about the urgent need to protect them since in the last sixty years, the number of specimens of this species decreased by 50%, mainly due to the loss of their habitat.

The name orangutan comes from the Malay and Indonesian words “people” (persona) y “forest” (bosque), so that literally means “Person of the forest”.

With orange fur, long arms that can measure up to 2 meters and a weight of around 120 kilos, these primates that spend most of their lives up in the trees looking for tasty fruits and delicacies, they are classified as a Critically Endangered species, according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Although some 12,000 years ago there were millions who inhabited from Java to southern China, today this has changed and they are barely a just over 60,000 copies those that remain in the world, which are found only in Indonesia y Malaysia, in the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, Asia.

The three surviving species of orangutans are: the Bornean orangutan (Pongo Pygmaeus) that inhabits the Malay provinces of Sabah and Sarawak, in the Indonesian province of Kalimantan; the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), found in the north of the Island of Sumatra and finally the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), which was discovered just three years ago and also inhabits the northern part of the island of Sumatra.

The two species of orangutan (Bornean and Sumatran) are considered in critical hazard. They are essential for the forest to regenerate, since disperse the seeds of the fruits what do they eat.

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When populations decline, so do other species of plants and animals. Because, their presence indicates that a forest is healthy and they are indispensable.

The orangutan is one of the many species of apes that belong to the hominid family. In this classification also stand out gorillas, chimpanzees and humans.

Notably humans and orangutans share almost a 97% DNA, which makes it a close relative of men and women, and are the unique great apes found outside of Africa.

Unlike their gorilla and chimpanzee cousins, which are distinctive for living in communities, orangutans they love spending time alone, although they are also known for forge strong bonds of friendship with a select group.

The orangutan is the slowest-reproducing mammal in the world. It is that females reach sexual maturity between 10 and 15 years and, in general, give birth to a single calf every 6 to 8 years. Meanwhile, males only approach females when mating and when they are pregnant they move away and remain absent from the upbringing of the little ones.

Orangutans spend most of their lives in trees, they even sleep in them, where they build soft nests with leaves and branches.

What’s more, They feed on ripe fruits, leaves, branches, termites, honey, fungi and other insects. They consume up to 400 different species of plants. They recognize their food, particularly the fruits, by their color and smell and the skill they exhibit is such that they are reputed to be the brightest botanists on the planet.

However, the problem arises when the trees, where they spend most of their time, are cut down to make way for development. In this way, orangutans go down to the ground and that is when they are vulnerable to being caught illegally, especially the young orphaned orangutans, for the live trade and for ape body parts.

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Orangutans, and other illegally trafficked ape species, can end up in zoos or as pets in private collections. This affects your worrying disappearance. According to the Greenpeace organization, every day there are 25 less orangutans.

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