What species are they?The orangutan is one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, sharing 96.4% of our DNA. Indigenous people of Indonesia and Malaysia call this ape "Orang Hutan" which literally translates as "Person of the Forest".
Once widespread throughout the forests of Asia, orangutans are now found on just two islands, Sumatra and Borneo.
There are three genetically distinct species: the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis), and the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). The three species look slightly different: Sumatran orangutans have lighter hair and a longer beard than their Bornean relatives, and Sumatran males have narrower cheekpads. Tapanuli orangutans have smaller heads. All species are highly endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. 100 years ago there were thought to be 315,000 orangutans in the wild. There are now less than 14,600 left in Sumatra, and less than 54,000 in Borneo. There are only 800 Tapanuli orangutans left, making them the most endangered Great Ape species in the world. They were only identified as a distinct species in 2017 and live in an area of forest known as Batang Toru, which is currently under threat as the site of a proposed hydro-electric dam. It is thought that they may be the first Great Apes to become extinct unless we help to protect them.