Bornean orangutan

The most common of the three orangutans species. How common? ‘Critically endangered’ common


Bornean orangutan


The most common of the three orangutans species. How common? ‘Critically endangered’ common

Population 104,700
50%+ population decline over the past 60 years

Distinguishable by its long arms and striking shaggy reddish-orange fur, it is the most recognized among the three species of orangutans. Endemic to the lush, biodiverse island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, this species epitomizes the delicate balance of life in the rainforest. As arboreal creatures, Bornean orangutans spend most of their lives in the forest canopies, adeptly navigating the treetops. However, they can also traverse considerable distances on the ground when necessary.

These great apes are renowned for their intelligence, demonstrating remarkable problem-solving skills and the ability to use tools. Their mode of travel through the trees, known as Quadrumanous scrambling, allows them to move efficiently and with agility, using all four limbs to grasp branches.

Bornean orangutans boast a diverse diet that reflects the richness of their tropical and subtropical habitats. While fruits constitute the core of their diet, providing essential nutrients and energy, they also consume bark, leaves, flowers, and insects. This varied diet not only sustains them but also plays a crucial role in the health of their ecosystem. As they feed on fruits and travel through the forest, they act as seed dispersers, contributing to the regeneration of the forest and the maintenance of biodiversity.

Reproduction in Bornean orangutans is a slow process, with individuals capable of producing only up to four surviving offspring over their lifetime. This low reproductive rate makes the species particularly vulnerable to population declines. Even minor decreases in their numbers can profoundly affect their viability as a species, emphasizing the critical need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

Human activities increasingly threaten the survival of Bornean orangutans. Deforestation for timber extraction, palm oil plantations, and agricultural development has led to the fragmentation of their habitat, limiting their range and access to food sources. Additionally, illegal wildlife trade poses a direct threat to their populations. These pressures jeopardize the orangutans and the intricate ecological balance of the Bornean rainforest.


Population est.
Presence Uncertain, Origin Uncertain
Official estimate
Sabah & Sarawak
Rough estimate (partial data)

Recent updates

July 2022: A new study has revealed that, without any preventative measures, the habitat of over 26,000 orangutans in Borneo will be destroyed by 2032, amounting to a quarter of the entire population of this critically endangered species.

Feb 2022: The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) in Indonesia announced the successful release of 13 rehabilitated orangutans back into the wild. The release was part of a wider effort to restore orangutan populations in the region.

Did you know?

  • The fragmented Bornean forests now cannot support more orangutans, forcing them to remain solitary or semi-solitary. This resulted in their patchy distribution which limits their social interactions and also resulting in conflicts with humans.
  • The Bornean orangutan numbers approximately 41,000 in the wild. A century ago, there were around 230,000 orangutans in the wild and were distributed throughout SE Asia.
  • There is no systematic monitoring or action recovery plan for conservation. 4. They eat around 400 types of fruits, making them “gardner of the forests” (as they play very important ecological role of seed dispersal)
  • They do not knuckle walk, they walk on fists.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Bornean orangutan on banknotes

Indonesia 500 Rupiah