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In photos:

In photos: King of the jungle

19 Aug 2019


  • borneo
  • fire
  • forests
  • forestry
  • orangutans
  • palm oil
  • threatened species

Today is World Orangutan Day and it’s the perfect time to highlight these charismatic animals and the challenges that they face.

Orangutans are the ultimate forest gardeners. They spread seeds to help maintain the diverse forest ecosystem. Not only is this important to a host of other animals, including the Sumatran tiger, Asian elephant and Sumatran rhino, it helps to ensure resources for people. By conserving the orangutan’s habitat, we’re also protecting other species and benefiting local communities.


You can help protect these beautiful animals by adopting an orangutan today.


Sumatran orangutan female 'Suma' swinging through the trees with male baby 'Forester' (Pongo abelii) Gunung Leuser NP, Sumatra, Indonesia © / Anup Shah / WWF

Highly intelligent, with long, powerful arms and grasping hands and feet, the orangutan moves through the treetops of lowland forests with ease.

Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) female known as 'Edita', Gunung Leuser NP, Sumatra, Indonesia © / Anup Shah / WWF

Both Sumatran and Bornean orangutan are listed as Critically Endangered under the IUCN Red List. The hair of the Sumatran orangutan is longer, denser and more fleece-like than the Bornean orangutan.

Male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) © David Lawson / WWF-UK

Orangutans can live up to 50 years in the wild.

Bornean orangutan female 'Tata' and her unnamed baby aged 2-3 months portrait (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii). Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia © / Anup Shah / WWF

Females first reproduce between 10-15 years of age. They give birth, at the most, once every six years, and the interval between babies can be as long as 10 years.

Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) baby 'kissing' mother, Borneo © / Karl Ammann / WWF

Orangutans usually give birth to a single baby or occasionally twins. Orangutan young stay with their mothers for the first 7-11 years of their life.

Forest after rain Kayan Mentarang National Park, Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia © Alain Compost / WWF

The Borneo rainforest is not only home to these orange-haired apes, but also a diverse range of wildlife.

Aerial view of palm oil plantation on deforested land, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia © / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

Orangutans – in both Sumatra and Borneo – are losing their treetop homes and food as forests are converted to oil palm and timber plantations. Look for products with the RSPO label to make sure you're buying sustainably.

Bush fire, Borneo, Central Kalimantan, October 2015 © WWF-Indonesia / Frenky Irawan

In remaining rainforest areas, orangutans are not safe. Changes in land use have made Borneo more susceptible to annual, choking fires that can last for months and kill these men of the forest.

Fingers of a juvenile orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) in a wooden cage, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia © Alain Compost / WWF

These gentle apes are slow, easy targets. They’re also poached for the pet trade, for food, or in retaliation when they move into agricultural areas and destroy crops.

Orangutan's nest, in conservation area in Arabela-Schanner landscape, West Kalimantan, Borneo © WWF-Aus / Tim Cronin

This is a photo of an orangutan's nest, in the conservation area of the Arabela-Schwanner landscape, West Kalimantan, Borneo.

Adult male Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) in rainforest canopy, Gunung Palung National Park, Borneo, West Kalimantan, Indonesia © / Tim Laman / WWF

WWF encourages sustainable forestry and is helping create a safe haven for orangutans in Borneo.

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Orangutan baby (Pongo pygmaeus), Semengoh Nature reserve, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia © / Edwin Giesbers / WWF


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