Do you know that we orangutans are from the superfamily of the Great Apes. Now, please meet all members of the Pongo branch of our Great Apes’ family..
In our lives too, size matters..
Do you know that most of our boys are twice as big as our girls.
We are “ omnivore ” – that means we eat vegetable and animal origin foods. Ripe fruit is our favourite but we also eat leaves, bark, honey, insects and bird eggs, invertebrates and, on rare occasions, catch and eat slow loris.
We also eat soil, termite-soil and visit mineral licks to get kaolin to counteract toxic tannins and phenolic acids in our diets. We begin our days eating for two to three hours and rest until midday.
We live to be 40 – 50 years old…in the wild or in captivity..
As some of our older males develop large, wide cheek pads (flanges) to scare off younger males and attract the girls.
We are loners. Among all great apes, we most love being left alone to ourselves and we are also the least social.
We may not look it, but we are clever and the most intelligent of non-human primates. we can track moving objects.. play video games.. plan movements in advance and signal them to others.. laugh… whistle.. and use tools.
But mothers being mothers, we aren’t alone during our infancy and early childhood.
Our mothers keep company with us in what will be solitary lives later and they look after us until we mature at about 6 to 7 years’ age.
We don’t have Whatsapp (yet!), but we communicate with one another. We communicate using utterances, throaty sounds. Hooting, long calls, guttural noises, making kissing squeaks, etc and also make gestures to beckon and indicate things like ‘get it’, ‘climb on me’, ‘go away’, ‘stop it’, etc..
Activities like poaching, deforestation and logging for palm oil cultivation, capturing us for illegal pet trade are causing rapid decline in our population and ranges.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species confirms that all three orangutan species are critically endangered.. we are legally protected from capture, harm or killing, but these unfortunately happen even now..
Those of us who get caught and end up in human captivity live the rest of our lives in wretched slavery, zoos and circuses teach and make us do tricks and entertain people and this has been going on from early 19th century all over the world…
Tigers, Clouded leopards and Wild Dogs hunt and harass us most, this is why you will find our Bornean bros more on the ground than our Sumatrans as tigers are absent there.
In June 2008, Spain became the first nation to recognize rights of non-human great apes, and urged their government to comply with recommendations of the Great Ape Project, which prohibit using chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas for animal experiments.
In December 2014, a court in Argentina ordered that an orangutan at Buenos Aires Zoo be moved to a sanctuary in Brazil and provide her some freedom..