Tapanuli orangutan

The frizzy-haired, mustached Tapanuli orangutan is the most endangered great ape on Earth

Tim Laman

This critically endangered orangutan species lives exclusively in South Tapanuli on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The body type and fur color of the Tapanuli orangutan are more similar to those of the Sumatran orangutan than those of the Bornean orangutan. Their hair is more unruly, their skulls are smaller, and their features are flat and broad. Most dominant males have bushy mustaches, and huge, flat cheek pads called flanges.

Like the other two orangutan species, male Tapanuli orangutans are bigger than females, and both sexes have beards. Orangutans from the Tapanuli region are only found in trees, where they spend most of their time. This is most likely caused by the Sumatran tigers that live nearby. They live alone and are only spotted in pairs when a mother cares for their young.


Population est.
Official estimate

Recent updates

March 2023: Residents of the Batang Toru forest in northern Sumatra have reported a higher volume of orangutan sightings on their properties and in their communities. This is believed to be a consequence of the disruption of the orangutans’ natural habitat due to the ongoing construction of a hydropower plant and dam in the area.

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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