Orangutans: The Red Apes

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Orangutans are the only ape in the world which has orange-reddish brown hair color. That is why they sometimes referred to as “The Red Apes”. Scientists have found that they are born with the ability to think and reason. In the past, local people felt that Orangutans are indigenous people who were hiding in the trees and try to avoid going to work. The term Orangutan means “Person of the Forest”. “Orang” means Person and “Huttan” means Forest.
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They are very closely related to humans and share 97% of the genetic code. Like humans they also have opposable thumbs.

Orangutan facts

Generally the Orangutans are classified into two species:
a.    Sumatran Orangutans (Pongo abelii)
b.     Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

They are the only apes which are from Asia (found only in islands of Sumatra and Borneo). The rest of the apes i.e. Chimps, Gorilla and Bonobos are all from Africa. Unlike other apes they are strictly arboreal in habitat and spend most of their time in tree tops. They are the largest tree living mammal. They move by swinging from one branch to other. This unique movement is called brachiate. They spend very little time on the ground and when on ground they walk on all four hands.

Fruits consist 90% of the diet of Orangutans. Apart from that they also eat leaves, barks, insects etc; almost all of which can be found on the trees. They also love to eat soaps without any trouble.

They are mostly diurnal i.e. they are most active in day times.

Similar to human they also have 32 teeth.

Orangutans can make 13 to 15 different vocalizations.

An Orangutan can stretch his/her hands up to a length of close to 8 feet.

Orangutans show sexual dimorphism i.e. you can easily differentiate between male and female Orangutans.

The height of a male Orangutan can reach up to 4.5 feet and can weight up to 90 kgs whereas the female height reach only up to 3.5 feet and they can weight 30 to 40 kgs only. The dominant males also have chick pads which are absent in younger males.

Male orangutans are mostly solitary whereas females live with their infants or sometimes alone. Orangutan females give birth only once in 8 years this is due to the fact that the Orangutans have longest childhood dependency (than any other animal in the world) on their mother.

The chick pad of a male Orangutan grows through out its lifetime.

They live around 35 to 40 years in the wild.

Among all the apes Orangutans are most critically endangered. This is largely contributed by poaching and loss of habitat due to deforestation. If no proper action is taken it soon will become a species of the past.

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