Orangutan Species Information and Facts

Fossil evidence suggests that during the Pleistocene era - between around 1.8 million years and 11,500 years ago - orangutans lived throughout much of Southeast Asia, from Java in the south, up into Laos and southern China.  In 1900, there were approximately 315,000 orangutans.

Recent estimates put the Bornean species at less than 54,000 individuals and the Sumatran species at 6,600 individuals.

Male Bornean Orangutan Male Sumatran Orangutan




Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans

Asia’s only great ape, the orangutan has recently been re-classified as belonging to two distinct species, reflecting their geographical distribution: Pongo pygmaeus (on Borneo) and Pongo abelii (on Sumatra).

The two species show slightly different physical characteristics. Sumatran orangutans have a narrower face and longer beard than the Bornean species.  Bornean orangutans are slightly darker in colour and the males have wider cheek pads than their Sumatran relatives.

Behavioural differences have also been observed between the two species; Sumatran orangutans are more frugivorous (fruit-eating) and have exhibited tool use. Under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, both species are classified as critically endangered.

Mother and Baby Orangutan



Orangutan Conservation

Find out how Orangutan Foundation is working towards a future for orangutans, forests and people.

Orangutan Tours

Adopt an Orangutan

Support the return of orangutans back on their slow journey back to the wild by adopting an orphan orangutan.

Adopt Wenda at Care For The Wild

Online Shop

Buy from a range of books, artwork, cards, toys and t-shirts to help support the Orangutan Foundation.

Olivia the Orangutan Cuddly Toy

Leaving a Legacy

Leaving a legacy is the greatest gift you can give us as it provides a secure resource for our crucial work.

Leaving a lasting legacy