Orangutan (Pongo sp.) - Wiki
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Type species: Simia pygmaeus
[Photo] Orangutan image taken by Tom Low at Camp Leakey, Tanjung Puting, Kalimantan, Indonesia (2003). License: public domain.
The orangutans are two species of great apes with long arms and reddish, sometimes brown, hair native to Indonesia and Malaysia . They are the only extant species in the genus Pongo and the subfamily Ponginae, although that subfamily also includes the extinct Gigantopithecus and Sivapithecus genera. The orangutan is an official state animal of Sabah in Malaysia. Their name derives from the Malay and Indonesian phrase orang hutan meaning "person of the forest".
Orangutans are the most arboreal of the great apes, spending nearly all of their time in the trees, making a new nest in the trees every night. Today they are only found in rainforests on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, but fossils have been found in Java, Vietnam and China. Adult males are about 4.5 ft (1.4 m) tall and up to 180 lb (82 kg) in weight.
The word orangutan (also written orang-utan, orang utan and orangutang) is derived from the Malay and Indonesian words orang meaning "person" and hutan meaning "forest", thus "man of the forest". Orang Hutan is the common term in these two national languages, although local peoples may also refer to them by local languages. Maias and mawas are also used in Malay, but it is unclear if those words refer only to orangutans, or to all apes in general.
The word was first attested in English in 1691 in the form orang-outang, and variants with -ng instead of -n as in the Malay original are found in many languages. This spelling (and pronunciation) has remained in use in English up to the present, but has come to be regarded as incorrect by some. However, dictionaries such as the American Heritage Dictionary regard forms with -ng as acceptable variants.
The name of the genus, Pongo, comes from a 16th century account by Andrew Battell, an English sailor held prisoner by the Portuguese in "Angola" (probably somewhere near the mouth of the Congo River), which describes two anthropoid "monsters" named Pongo and Engeco. It is now believed that he was describing gorillas, but in the late 18th century it was believed that all great apes were orangutans; hence Lac??p??de's use of Pongo for the genus.
Behaviour and language
Like the other great apes, orangutans are remarkably intelligent. Although tool use among chimpanzees was documented by Jane Goodall in the 1960s, it wasn't until the mid-1990s that one population of orangutans was found to use feeding tools regularly. A 2003 paper in the journal Science described the evidence for distinct orangutan cultures.
The first orangutan language study program, directed by Dr. Francine Neago, was listed by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1988. The Orangutan language project at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., uses a computer system originally developed at UCLA by Neago in conjunction with IBM.
Although orangutans are generally passive, aggression toward other orangutans is very common; they are solitary animals and can be fiercely territorial. Immature males will try to mate with any female, and may succeed in forcibly copulating with her if she is also immature and not strong enough to fend him off. Mature females easily fend off their immature suitors, preferring to mate with a mature male. Wild orangutans are known to visit human-run facilities for orphaned young orangutans released from illegal captivity, interacting with the orphans and probably helping them adapt in their return to living in the wild.
Orangutans are thought to be the sole fruit disperser for some plant species including the climber species Strychnos ignatii which contains the toxic alkaloid strychnine. It does not appear to have any effect on orangutans except for excessive saliva production.
-- Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
---- Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus - northwest populations
---- Pongo pygmaeus morio - northeast and east populations
---- Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii - southwest populations
-- Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii)
The populations on the two isolated islands were classified as subspecies until recently, when they were elevated to full specific level, and the three distinct populations on Borneo were elevated to subspecies. Some suggest that the subspecies wurmbii is conspecific with the Sumatra population (P. abelii). In that case, the resulting species, which would be distributed in Sumatra and southwestern Borneo, would be known as Pongo wurmbii, as that is the older name.
In addition,stin a fossil species, P. hooijeri, is known from Vietnam, and multiple fossil subspecies have been described from several parts of southeastern Asia. It is unclear if these belong to P. pygmaeus or P. abeli or, in fact, represent distinct species.
The Borneo species of orangutans is highly endangered, and the Sumatran species is critically endangered, according to the IUCN Red List of mammals, and both are listed on Appendix I of CITES. The Borneo population is estimated at about 50,000 in the wild, while the Sumatran species is estimated at 7000-7500 individuals.
Orangutan habitat destruction due to logging, mining and forest fires has been increasing rapidly in the last decade. A major factor in that period of time has been the conversion of vast areas of tropical forest to oil palm plantations, for the production of palm oil. Much of this activity is illegal, occurring in national parks that are officially off limits to loggers, miners and plantation development. There is also a major problem with the poaching of baby orangutans for sale into the pet trade; the trappers usually kill the mother to steal the baby.
Major conservation centres in Indonesia include those at Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan, Kutai in East Kalimantan, Gunung Palung in West Kalimantan, and Bukit Lawang in the Gunung Leuser National Park on the border of Aceh and North Sumatra. In Malaysia, conservation areas include Semenggok in Sarawak, and the Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary near Sandakan in Sabah.
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