Sumatra and Borneo
are synonymous with the orangutan, the long-limbed old man of the forest, whose iconic ginger frame can be seen swinging through the canopy of ancient rainforests of these mysterious islands. However, while 100 years ago over 300,000 orangutans roamed these forests; today just 20 percent remain
. The Bornean orangutan is classified as endangered, with around 54,000 individuals remaining. The Sumatran orangutan is critically endangered, with just 6,600.*
Eerily human, it is – ironically – the orangutan’s similarity to us that has endangered it so; the apes prefer the lowland forests, proximity to freshwater and fertile soils that are so appealing to farmers
. The illegal wildlife trade, logging, forest fires and mining all threaten the future of the orangutan, but the greatest danger by far comes from palm oil plantations, which flatten and fragment ancient forest.
National parks, sanctuaries, rescue and rehabilitation centres are dotted across their habitats, and supporting these places is an important step in guarding their future, as well as raising awareness of their plight
. Whether you come to volunteer, see them feeding in a rehabilitation centre, or support local communities who strive to protect their historical neighbours, make sure you do it in the right way.