About Sumatran Orangutan

Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii)Orangutan is the only great ape living in Asia, while the other apes like gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo live in Africa. Less than 20,000 years ago, orangutans lived in South East Asia from Java Island in the southern part of the area to the North end of Himalayan Mountains and Southern China. Nowadays, orangutans can only be found in the forests in Sumatera and Borneo (Kalimantan).

Now, the Sumatran orangutans can only be found in the Provinces of North Sumatera and Aceh, bordered by Toba Lake to the South for the distribution range. The largest population of the species in Sumatera Island is 2,508 in West Leuser; 1,052 in East Leuser and 1,500 in Rawa Singkil. The other population which is estimated to survive longer are the orangutans in Batang Toru. It is estimated that the total population of the Sumatran orangutan is 6,000.

The decreasing population of orangutans in the wild is due to the degradation of the low land forests becoming the main habitats of the orangutan and poaching for trade. The species morphology which is similar to humans and the cute babies become the reasons why the orangutan becomes the favourite traded pet animal which is illegal.

Orangutan is protected by law and it is illegal to trade and keep it as pet animal. According to the Law number 5 year 1990 concerning the Conservation of the Natural Resources and the Ecosystem, orangutan traders violate the law and liable to maximum of a five-year prison tern and maximum of a 100-million Indonesia Rupiah fine. Despite the protection, the trade of orangutan remains high due to the lack of public awareness and law enforcement.

Forest conversion into palm oil plantation also poses further threat to the orangutans. Many cases show the conflicts between orangutan and palm oil companies where the primates are killed because they are considered as pests for the plantations. The orangutan habitats are also fragmented because of the conversion.

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats