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- Added Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:33
- by Super User
Orang-utans once lived throughout south-east Asia, but now they only survive on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
According to the WWF a century ago, there were around 230,000 orang-utans in the wild, but now only around 7,500 survive on Sumatra and 55,000 on Borneo. They are officially classified as ‘endangered’, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
First and foremost the orang-utan is threatened by the destruction of their rainforest habitat at a shocking rate. An estimated 80% of suitable orang-utan habitat has been lost to agriculture, logging and infrastructure development in the last 20 years alone. Still more worrying is the fact that only 2% of the remaining habitat is legally protected.
Orang-utans are also victims of widespread poaching: although they are a protected species they are often killed for their meat or captured and sold into the pet trade.
Orang-utans in the Wild
We visit the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, the first official orang-utan rehabilitation project for rescued orphaned baby orang-utans. The orphans are trained to survive again in the wild and are released as soon as they are ready. The reserve is home to around 60 to 80 orang-utans living free in their natural rainforest habitat.
In Sumatra we also visit the Bohorok Orang-utan Centre, where orphaned animals have been released back into their natural environment.
Explore actively supports the Born Free Foundation, who have a joint project with International Animal Rescue (IAR) to care for, rehabilitate and ultimately release rescued orang-utans back into protected areas of forest in Borneo.