The Sumatran Orangutan, one of two Orangutan subspecies, is now found only in the dense, tropical northern forests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Almost the entire life of a Sumatran Orangutan is spent high up trees. In particular, these orangutans can be spotted feasting together in the sweet fig trees of the Sumatran rainforests.
Unlike other apes, like gorillas and chimpanzees, it will be very rare to find a Sumatran Orangutan wandering the forest floor. In fact, they are the largest ‘arboreal’ animal in the world. This means they spend almost all of their time high up in trees and will travel around by swinging from branch to branch
Generally, they prefer the lowland forest areas that are abundant in food, but some have been spotted hanging out in altitudes higher than 1,000 meters above sea level. This is mainly a consequence of aggressive deforestation destroying the lowland habitat.
The Sumatran orangutan is almost exclusively arboreal, living among the trees of tropical rainforests. Females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males do so rarely. Sumatran orangutans are reported to have closer social ties than their Bornean cousins.
This has been attributed to mass fruit on fig trees, where groups of Sumatran orangutans can come together to feed. Adult males are typically solitary while females are accompanied by offspring.
Let’s now find out more interesting facts about Sumatran Orangutans:
1. To support their Tarzan-tree-hopping way of life, their arms are incredibly strong and comparatively long to the size of their legs. Also, their hands and feet are capable of an iron grip to help with swinging and reaching.
2. In a lifetime, they will cover large areas of land, but day to day, they only move up to a tiny half mile. This is no surprise however, as they spend 60% of their day filling their bellies with a variety of food from fruit like mangos, lychees and durians to termites, eggs and even honey taken from bee hives using a variety of intelligent techniques.
3. Fruit makes up 60% of their food diet but it also quenches 100% of their water needs.
4. Orangutans in general, unlike other apes, are solitary apart from when females have offspring. However, Sumatran Orangutans are known to be more social than Bornean Orangutans as they tend to feast together on the sweet fruits of Sumatra’s fig trees.
5. In comparison with their orangutan cousins that live in Borneo, the Sumatran Orangutan is slightly smaller, has lighter hair, and a longer beard. The males also have slimmer cheek pads.
6. Sadly, these intelligent and human-like beings are Critically Endangered and are ranked to be one of the rarest primate species on the planet! Baby Sumatran Orangutans are illegally taken from their mothers, taken from the wild and sold into the exotic pet trade black market.
7. The biggest threat to Sumatran Orangutans is habitat destruction. Sumatran forests continue to be logged so that they can be used for, palm oil plantations and human settlement. Often, this is done by burning the forest first.
The life-filled forest is set on fire, killing thousands of creatures unable to or not quick enough to escape the flames. These activities continue to devastate the homes of these wonderfully beautiful and emotionally complex animals.
When you see Sumatran orangutans in Monsoon Forest remember that the survival of this beautiful species is in the balance and without continued conservation work it could become the first ‘Great Ape’ to become extinct in the wild.
8. Orangutans are noisy creatures when they want to be, making loud howls and bellows that can be heard for miles around! It’s usually the males that make these calls so that they can stay out of each other’s territory.
9. Orangutans have large home ranges and low population densities, which complicates conservation measures. Population densities depend to a large degree on the abundance of fruits with soft pulp. Sumatran orangutan will commute seasonally between lowland, intermediate, and highland regions, following fruit availability.