The Fruits of Civilization (73-5) Orangutans


Orangutans are a highly intelligent primate. They use tools and their populations have their own cultures. Orangutans are the most arboreal of the apes, and the largest tree-dwelling mammal.

An orangutan has a natural life span of 30 years. Few get to die of old age nowadays.

Orangutans were once native to several islands in Indonesia and Malaysia. Their numbers greatly diminished, the few thousand that remain are in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.

Deforestation has greatly confined where orangutans may live. That problem has been compounded by orangutans being hunted and killed by humans in large numbers. Orangutans are murdered for their meat, to protect crops, or for traditional medicines. Orangutan bones are furtively traded in Indonesian souvenir shops.

Even an occasional killing would be enough to wipe out a population, as the orangutan reproductive cycle is around 7 years. Orangutans are expected to be extinct by the early 2020s.