Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Quick Quintet: Orangutans

Hands up who thought orangutans were so called because they had orange fur. Yup, me too. Wrong. Orang means man in Malaysian, and utan means forest, so these are men of the forest. (Or women, obviously.) We were thrilled to see several at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo and I learned a few things about them.

5 Things I Learned About Orangutans:
  1. Whereas they used to be widespread throughout South East Asia, due to hunting and deforestation, orangutans are now only found in Borneo and Sumatra
  2. Orangutans build two nests a day from leafy branches, 40-60m up in the trees - they make a rough one for an afternoon nap and a more substantial one for their nightime sleep. When it rains, they cover themselves with a palm frond or similar
  3. The mother orangutan looks after her young for about eight years - during this time she will not mate
  4. Unlike most monkeys and primates, orangutans are solitary animals and live alone (or with their mother) . They do not socialise - to such an extent that if they are searching for fruit in the same tree, they will sit apart from each other while eating and leave alone afterwards
  5. Orangutans share 96.4% of the same genetic make-up as humans (but their arms are 30% longer than their legs)

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