Sumatran Orangutan Pongo abelii

Sumatran Orangutan by Craig Jones Photography

Sumatran Orangutan Pongo abelii

Critically Endangered

Population: 13,846

Sumatran Orangutans inhabit moist lowland forest, montane forest and peat swamps. They are diurnal and almost exclusively arboreal; females virtually never travel on the ground and adult males do so only rarely. Sumatran Orangutans are primarily frugivores, but also eat young and mature leaves, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, insects (termites and ants), bark and, on occasion, the meat of slow loris (Fox et al. 2004, Wich et al. 2006, Morrogh-Bernard et al. 2009, Hardus et al. 2012b). Female home ranges vary in size from 0.8–1.5 km². The true extent of male home range size is not fully known, although ranges well in excess of 30 km² are inferred (Singleton and van Schaik 2001, Singleton et al. 2009).

#Sumatran #Orangutans are critically #endangered on @IUCNredlist due to #deforestation for #palmoil. 80% of their rainforest habitat has been destroyed in 20 years. Protect them with a brand #Boycott4Wildlife on #palmoil! Photos by @CraigJones17

Sumatran Orangutan photography by Craig Jones

“Orangutans are us and we are them in so many ways. Their peaceful mannerism and intelligence is just remarkable.

“I feel there is so much we still don’t know about these great apes. For as long as I walk this earth I will do my best to help them, alongside every other creature we share this planet with, by using my camera and my own voice to help them. Without direct intervention in the national parks the Orangutans along with other forest-dependent wildlife- like the Sumatran Tigers and Elephants will become progressively scarcer until their populations are no longer viable.” ~ Craig Jones, Wildlife Photographer, Conservationist.

The Sumatran Orangutan’s survival is seriously threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation (Wich et al. 2008, 2011, 2016). Forests continue to be cleared at the large and medium scale for oil-palm plantations that can each cover hundreds of square kilometres.

iUCN Red list

Due to high levels of habitat conversion and fragmentation, and illegal killing, the Sumatran Orangutan is estimated to have experienced a significant population reduction in recent years. Forest loss data indicate that key Sumatran Orangutan forest habitat (i.e., below 500 m asl) was reduced by 60% of its area between 1985 and 2007 (Wich et al. 2008, 2011). It is thought that this reduction will continue as forests within the species’ range remain under considerable threat (Wich et al. 2016).

Sumatran Orangutans

On a smaller scale, logging for timber (both legal and illegal) remains a threat, as does the creation of new roads, which fragment populations and gives access to illegal settlements and further encroachment for agriculture and plantations (also frequently illegal), and to wildlife poachers. When industrial plantations are established, the resident orangutans are forced to seek refuge in adjacent forest patches, if any remain, but in the long term they are likely to succumb to malnutrition and starvation due to competition and limited resources. Such forest fragments are often subsequently cleared as well.

Sumatran Orangutans are frequently killed deliberately, completely illegally, and surviving infants end up in an illegal pet trade. This trade tends to be a by-product of habitat conversion, for example, if an Orangutan is found in an isolated patch of trees during the conversion process, there is a high probability it will be killed. Sumatran Orangutans are also regularly killed in human-wildlife conflict situations, for example, if raiding fruit crops on farmland at the forest edge (Wich et al. 2012).

Further Information


Singleton, I., Wich , S.A., Nowak, M., Usher, G. & Utami-Atmoko, S.S. 2017. Pongo abelii (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T121097935A123797627. Downloaded on 24 January 2021.

Photos by Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

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Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail industry and influence big palm oil to stop cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join me and stand up for the animals with your art and your supermarket choices!

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