There are three species of orangutan: the Sumatran, Bornean and Tapanuli.
The orangutan is native to Indonesia and Malaysia and is currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. They are the most arboreal of the great apes and spend most of their time in the trees eating, sleeping and travelling through the forest canopy. They possess incredible strength in their long arms and hook like fingers and their toes are superbly adapted to climbing.
Orangutans are characterised by highly sexually dimorphic traits with males almost twice the size of females.
Orangutans live a more solitary lifestyle than other great apes, however they can be somewhat social with most bonds occurring between adult females and their dependent young. Adult males live alone and interactions between males tend to be hostile.
Dominant adult males have distinctive cheek pads called ‘flanges’ and produce ‘long calls’ which both attract females and intimidate rivals.
Orangutans are predominantly frugivores feeding mostly on ripe fruits as well as leaves, flowers, shoots, bark and occasionally insects and bird eggs. They play a vital role in seed dispersal and maintaining the health of the forest and its ecosystem.
The name orangutan translates to ‘man of the forest ‘ in the Malay language.