Posted August 18, 2023 in News
International Orangutan Day 2023
International Orangutan Day was established to help encourage the public to take action in preserving this incredible species.
There are three species of Orangutan: the Bornean Orangutan, the Sumatran Orangutan and the Tapanuli Orangutan. According to recent Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA), there are an estimated 57,000 Bornean Orangutans, 13,000 Sumatran Orangutans and 800 Tapnauli Orangutans left in the wild. Orangutans are currently classed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The main reason that their rainforest home is being cut down is to make way for palm oil plantations. This is a very high profit crop and it is thought that 10% of all supermarket products contain it.
Orangutans are a vital cog within the rainforest ecosystem as they play an important role in seed dispersal. The seeds from the ripe fruit in their diet are adapted to withstand passage through an Orangutan’s gut. These seeds are then excreted in a small pile of faeces which helps them to germinate and grow. Orangutans also help to open up the forest canopy by braking off branches and creating gaps which allows light to reach the forest floor. This in turn helps the forest regenerate naturally.
Colchester Zoo’s charity, Action for the Wild, has supported many Orangutan Conservation Projects including Orangutan Appeal UK, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and currently, The Orangutan Foundation. The Orangutan Foundation is the world’s foremost Orangutan conservation organisation. They are saving Asia’s endangered great ape by protecting their tropical habitat, working with local communities and promoting research and education. Donations go towards the vet’s annual salary and also help support the costs associated with trans-locations such as transport fuel, medication and food. In 2023, we will be making an additional contribution of £7,500 to this important conservation project.
Here at Colchester Zoo, we have three Bornean Orangutans: one male named Tiga and two females, Mali and Tatau. All three can be seen at our Rajang’s Forest exhibit, named in memory of our beloved Orangutan, Rajang, who sadly passed away in 2018.