When Malays became aware of the existence of orangutans they have decided to call them “forest people” or orangutans. This is an interesting and more or less correct description of this type of great ape. Orangutans naturally live in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. The bad news is that this forest is cut down at a very fast rate and their natural habitat is becoming smaller and smaller. This is the reason why they have become an endangered species. Sadly, many locals kill orangutans because they are “ruining” their crop. Needless to say, they are also victims of illegal hunting and trading.
It’s good to point out that orangutans are the largest animal that lives on trees. A well-developed male orangutan can be over five feet tall and weigh over 200 pounds. The female representatives of these apes are smaller and they can reach four feet and weight around 100 pounds. Orangutans spend most of their lives on tree branches going from one branch to another. For this reason, they have very strong arms and even though their legs are not weak they avoid walking because the ground is full of predators like snakes, leopards, and tigers.
There are two different species of orangutans: the Sumatran and the Bornean orangutan. They are different in terms of behavior and appearance too. For instance, Sumatran orangutans come with longer facial hair while the Bornean orangutans have loose social bonds with each other. In addition, Bornean orangutans are often seen on the ground while Sumatran orangutans spend almost all of their lives on trees.
How long do orangutans live?
Many people are wondering how long do orangutans live. Despite the fact that there are two different species, they have a similar life expectancy. Generally speaking, orangutans can reach an age of over 50 years when they live freely in the wilderness. Of course, when they are kept in captivity they can live 10-15 years more.
Female orangutans give their first birth when they are between 10 and 15 years old. They deliver new orangutans once in five years. The first time, they give birth to one young or sometimes two tiny orangutans. Young orangutans are following their mother for the next 7 or up to 11 years. In the beginning, they use their mother’s body for transportation. They also share the bed with their mother until they become independent.
One of the things that affect orangutan’s life expectancy is their diet. Obviously, when they have access to the best food, they increase their life expectancy. Around 60% of their diet is based on fruit like jackfruit, durians, lychees, mangoes, mangosteens and figs. The other 40% include bugs, young shoots, and leaves, woody lianas, tree bark, soil and eggs. They use water from fruit and from tree holes. If they have a well-balanced diet they can live for more than five decades.
It takes a lot of time for orangutans to become sexually mature and they have very low reproductive rate and on top of that, they witness excessive mortality which is why their median life expectancy is lower.