To say that orangutans are close to the human family is an understatement. The fact that these great apes share over 97% genetic make-up with us is astounding. These adorable apes are part of us. However, there is a major problem regarding the survival of orangutans. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has named orangutans as critically endangered animals. This literally means that these gentle apes may soon disappear from the face of the earth. The only two species remaining are the Borneon and Sumatran orangutans.
Why do they face a high risk for extinction?
The first reason is the loss of habitat. Orangutans have lost their homes at a massive scale. These apes dwell in rain-forests and over the last 30 years or so, at least 80% of these forests have been cleared for agriculture. Through deforestation, humans have opted to put up palm oil plantations at the expense of orangutans. Illegal logging is another major challenge that is depriving these apes from their habitat every single day. To survive, orangutans must feed on many types of food including fruits. When the trees keep going down, the apes are forced to scavenge for food on the ground; leading them to the traps of poachers.
Is there hope for orangutans?
Hope can never be lost for these precious apes. Organizations like The Orangutan Network are working on the ground to ensure optimal conservation. This network undertakes extensive research at the habitats so as to inform and boost effective conservation. They have set up ongoing research sites to document the local traditions among these apes. Through this network, efforts of conservation are connected through research. The Orangutan Network has active forums where any person can join and participate in these efforts.
What can you do to protect orangutans?
The first thing you can do to protect these precious animals is to get involved. Get all the information you need. This way, you can decide to donate money to organizations that are on the ground conducting conservation efforts. A suitable place to donate is The Orangutan Network. Through your support, the research field sites stay open for gathering of data that goes into saving the apes. You can also volunteer your time on the ground. Look for good initiatives that are involved and see what you can do.
You can also inform your friends about the importance of conserving orangutans.
Sharing all the information through your networks can spark a conversation that can lead to great change. Above all, awareness is the first step to making a difference at any cause. You can also protect apes by avoiding products that are grown at orangutan habitats like palm oil. This way, you will make a statement that such products are produced through unsustainable means. You can also purchase products sold by organizations that conserve the apes. Many sell caps, mugs, t shirts among other merchandise in an effort to raise funds and to create awareness; through the branded goods. Some people will be inspired to start fundraisers. When all people play a role, orangutans do not have to die; we can indeed save these wonderful apes.