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.
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.
More information about orangutans