Tragically, the animals share a preference with humans for fertile alluvial plains and lowland valleys - a habitat once rich in tropical forests but now disappearing fast due to logging and agricultural schemes such as rice cultivation and oil palm plantations.
Just 100 years ago there were probably more than 230,000 orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra. In the last 10 years alone their numbers have declined by 30-50%, and now just over 60,000 survive. If efforts to protect orangutans are not urgently strengthened, Asia’s only great ape may be lost from the wild forever within a few decades.
Orangutans are 'flagship' species for the conservation of the tropical forests of Sumatra and Borneo. Because they require large areas of good quality habitat, ensuring their conservation in the wild means that the myriad of other species that share the ecosystem - including proboscis monkeys, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Sumatran tigers, clouded leopard, Malayan sun bear, and Malay tapirs - will be protected.