Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet" and "Endangered Edens."

O is for Orangutan

Orangutan

Marty’s photo of the day #1469: It’s “Animals A thru Z Month.” Each day in June, I will post an animal I’ve photographed—somewhere in the world—in alphabetical order.

O is for Orangutan. Orangutans are the world’s largest tree-dwelling animals. In the Malay language, orangutan means “man of the forest.” Considering that they share 96.4 percent of their genes with humans, the term is uncannily accurate. The red apes live only in Borneo and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (I photographed this one in Malaysian Borneo).

The total population of wild orangutans has declined by more than 50 percent since the 1980s. With a current population of just fifteen thousand, they could become extinct within the next ten to twenty-five years (the IUCN classifies them as an “endangered species”). The primary factors contributing to their demise are poaching, illegal pet trade, and habitat destruction. Malaysia has taken steps to protect orangutans and, to a lesser extent, so has Indonesia, but neither country is doing enough.

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