What is an Orangutan?

Orangutan or other name is mawas is a kind of big ape with long sleeves and has reddish or brown fur, which live in tropical forest of Indonesia and Malaysia, especially in Kalimantan and Sumatera island.

The term “orang utan” is derived from the Malay word, ie ‘person’ which means man and ‘utan’ which means forest. Orangutans include two sub-species, namely Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) and orang utan kalimantan (borneo) (Pongo pygmaeus). What is unique is that orangutans have close kinship with humans at the level of kingdom animalia, where orangutans have a 96.4% DNA similarity rate.What is an Orangutan ?

They have a big body, fat, big neck, long arms, strong, short legs and crooked, and no tail.

Orangutans have a height of about 1.25 to 1.5 meters.

The orangutan body is covered in brownish red hair. They have large heads with high mouth positions.

When it reaches the level of sexual maturity, male orangutans have fat temples on both sides, large crowns, long hair and grow bearded around the face. They have the same senses as humans, namely hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

Male orangutans weigh about 50-90 kg, whereas female orangutans weigh about 30-50 kg.

Their palms have 4 long fingers plus 1 thumb. The soles of their feet also have a finger composition that is very similar to humans.

Orangutans are still included in great ape species such as gorillas and chimpanzees. Great apes include mammalian classification, large brain size, eye forward, and hand grip.What is an Orangutan ?


There are 2 types of orangutan species, namely Bornean Orangutan / Borneo (Pongo pygmaeus) and Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii).

The descendants of Sumatran and Kalimantan Orangutans differ from 1.1 to 2.3 million years ago.

Orangutans are shy creatures. They rarely show themselves to people or other creatures that are unfamiliar

Female orangutans usually give birth at the age of 7-10 years with the duration of the content ranging from 8.5 to 9 months; almost the same as humans. The number of babies born to a female is usually only one. Baby orangutans can live independently at the age of 6-7 years. The dependence of orangutans on their mothers is the longest of all animals, because there are many things that must be learned to survive, they are usually kept until the age of 6 years.

Orangutans breed longer than other primate animals, female orangutans only give birth to a child every 7-8 years. The orangutans live in the wild for about 45 years, and throughout life the female orangutans have only 3 offspring for the rest of their lives. Where that means orangutan reproduction is very slow.

Orangutans can move quickly from tree to tree by swinging on branches of trees, or commonly called brachiating. They can also walk with both legs, but are rarely found. Orangutans can not swim.

Unlike gorillas and chimpanzees, orangutans do not live in big flocks. They are semi-solitary animals. Male orangutans are usually found alone and female orangutans are usually accompanied by several children. Orangutans are arboreal animals, meaning they live or move on trees. This is in contrast to other great apes, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, which are terrestrial animals (living on land).


Orangutans can use the stick as a tool to take food, and use the leaves as a sun shield. The 6-year-old Sumatran orangutan living in the western swamp of the Alas Sumatera River uses a stick to detect honey but the behavior has never been found among orangutans in the eastern coastal areas. This shows the diversity of behavior in environmental adaptation. The largest male males have arm bands (length from one end of the hand to the other if both arms are stretched) to 2.3 m.

Male orangutans can make long-distance calls that can be heard within a 1 km radius. Used to mark / supervise the area, calling the female, preventing other malicious male orangutans. They have a large throat bag that makes them able to do it.

Orangutans are currently only found in Sumatra and Kalimantan, in Southeast Asia. Since it is a dense forest, it is difficult to estimate the right population. In Borneo, the population of orangutans is estimated to be about 55,000 individuals. In Sumatra, the number is estimated to be about 200 individuals. This happens due to excessive land clearing.

The greatest threat being experienced by orangutans is the increasingly narrow habitat due to the rain forest area that became its residence used as palm oil, mining and trees felled for timber Orangutans have lost 80% of their habitat area in less than 20 years. Not infrequently they are also injured and even killed by farmers and landowners because it is considered a pest. If a female orangutan is found with her child, then her mother will be killed and her son then sold in illegal animal trade. A rehabilitation center was established to treat a sick, wounded and lost parent. They are treated for the purpose of being returned to their natural habitat.

Land Opening and Plantation Conversion

In Sumatra, the population is only in the Leuser area, which covers 2.6 million hectares covering Aceh and North Sumatra. Leuser was declared one of the most important biodiversity areas and was designated as UNESCO’s Tropical Rainforest Heritage Heritage in 2004. Its ecosystem incorporates Gunung Leuser National Park, but most of the Orangutans live outside protected area boundaries, where the forest area is reduced by 10-15% annually to serve as a logging area and as an agricultural area.

Indonesia is one of the countries experiencing the greatest reduction of tropical forest in the world. There are no signs that indicate the reduced rate of deforestation. About 15 years ago, there were about 1.7 million hectares of forest that is continuously logged annually in Indonesia, and continues to grow in 2000 as much as 2 million hectares.

Why Save Orangutans?

Orangutans are the largest arboreal (tree-dwelling) animals; their fruit-eating and seed-dispersing behavior is of ecological significance, helping to shape and preserve tropical rain forests.

Orangutans are a keystone species. As orangutans disappear, it signals the disappearance of thousands of other animals and plant species in fragile tropical rain forest habitats. Conversely, by saving orangutans and their habitats, we save those same species that co-exist with them.

Orangutans are, with the other great apes including humans, the most intelligent beings to have evolved on land. As individuals, orangutans display unique and rich personalities. They provide models for human behavior, in terms of physiology, cognition, and evolution.

As great apes and one of humankind’s closest primate relatives, orangutans are sentient beings that deserve respect and life.