Orangutans belong to the great apes. Weighing up to 120 kg (males) and 50 kg (females), they are the world’s heaviest arboreal animals. And they are as much dependent on the rainforest as the rainforest is dependent on them.
Orangutans play a significant role in rainforest ecology. As frugivores they distribute the seeds of eaten plants and, while brachiating through the canopy, they break off weak or dying branches, opening the canopy up to sunlight which can then reach the forest floor.
Habitat of the orangutans
Today only few populations live on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, but fossil evidence suggests that originally orangutans were widely spread. Their habitat ranges from the swamp rainforests of the lowlands to heights of up to 1,500 meters.
Orangutans are divided into three species, the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), which is further divided into three subspecies, the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and the recently discovered Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), that lives also on Sumatra. All three species differ in appearance and behavior.