Orangutan means “person of the forest” in the Malayan language. Orangutans are the primates belonging to the ape family. Other animals belonging to ape family are chimpanzee and gorilla. They are closely related to human beings as there is a stunning 97% match in DNA characteristics between the humans and orangutans . They are found only in the Malayan islands of Borneo and Sumatra in the World. They are orange colored primates. This is the only great ape species living in the continent of Asia, other ape species are only found in Africa. Let us see some of the amazing facts about these great apes given below:
Fact 1: There are nearly 30,000 orangutans in the wild. 20,000 of them are in the Bornean islands and rest under 10,000 in Sumatran islands. There is an uncertainty among scientists in considering the Bornean and Sumatran orangutans under one species or they are unwary of the fact that the two species have become so isolated, that they have to be considered as two sub species.
Fact 2: Orangutans are highly arboreal in nature. They spend 90% of their lives on trees. The adult orangutans rarely touch the ground. They have a 7 feet span between arm to arm and their arms stretch beyond their height (nearly 5 feet), when they stand. These huge arms help them to swing on trees. In-fact they drink water collected in tree holes.
Fact 3: Orangs are diurnal animals and hunt for food during the day light. They eat fruits, leaves, barks, shoots, nuts and insects and they catch and eat small mammals and birds, when they can. An orangutan can identify 200 different species of food plants by the age of ten.
Fact 4: In fact orangutans are solitary animals. Male orangutans usually are loners and move through the forest often grumbling and howling to announce their territories. These sounds can be heard as far as 1.2 miles.
Fact 5: Female orangutans are often accompanied by their offspring. Baby orangutans stay with their mother for longer periods of up to 8 years. They give birth to their offspring once in 8 to 9 years, the longest period for any living mammal. These long periods sometimes endanger the orangutan species. Orangs give birth to only one offspring sometimes very rarely to twins.
Fact 6: Human beings and orangutans share the fact that both have 32 teeth. They have sharp canine teeth with males having longer canine teeth than females, which they display when threatened and during fights. However, orangutans have 7 times more strength than humans. They travel 50 meters to 1000 meters on any given day.
Fact 7: Orangutans use sticks to open up some fruits when they are hungry. They make 13 types of different sounds to communicate with each other and they also communicate with each other making hand signs. Interestingly, they have learned to use zippers, open latches, wash clothes and paddle canoes watching humans, when they are in captivity.
Fact 8: There is sexual dimorphism seen between male and female orangutans. Males are larger than females. Males have larger cheek pads, which grows throughout their entire life span. They make calls using these pads to attract females and ward off rivals.
Fact 9: Usually orangutans hold a leafy branch or leaves over their head during excessive rain and sunshine to protect themselves from getting wet and heat. Every night orangutans make a leafy nest on trees for sleeping.
Fact 10: Natural habitat of the Sumatran and Bornean rain forests of orangutans is in grave danger due to excessive logging, deforestation and increased spread of palm plantations. Humans are consuming the trees, food and animals that they eat and hence has endangered the orangutan species. Pet trading is one more danger to decreasing orangutan population.