The most important risk factor for orangutans is the loss of habitat. In 10 years, from the beginning of 2010 to the end of 2019, Indonesia lost almost 5.9 million hectares of humid primary forest (Global Forest Watch). The average annual forest loss in that time was 585,400 hectares – the equivalent of about 68 full-size rugby fields per hour.
In 2019, Indonesia ranked third behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a loss of 324,000 hectares of primary forest. In Borneo, only half of the forest cover remains today, down from 75 per cent in the mid-1980s (UNEP).
A deadly combination of logging (legal and illegal) and the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations is largely responsible for the loss of orangutan habitat. From 2013 to 2019, 70 per cent of tree cover loss in Indonesia occurred within natural forest (Global Forest Watch). Often, logging occurs on the pretext of being in palm oil, but is merely to gain income from the sale of timber.
In addition to the direct loss of habitat, there are flow-on effects from the opening up of the forest and introduction of network roads:
- The creation of ‘forest islands’: these are areas of land too small to support an orangutan population and result in animals caught on these islands starving to death or turning to desperate food-seeking measures.
- The vulnerability of these areas to forest fires increases. The large quantities of dead wood littering what was once forest floor provide the perfect combustion material for Kalimantan’s famous uncontrollable infernos.
- Micro-climate changes impact fruiting in the forests: when local conditions deteriorate, orangutans are forced to move to new areas in search of food, bringing them in conflict with humans and often ending in them being killed as ‘pests’.
Fortunately, due to strengthened law enforcement to prevent forest fires and land clearing, as well as a moratorium policy that bans the clearing of primary forests and peatlands, deforestation in Indonesia is slowing in recent years. But despite this progress, threats remain, since companies secured concession permits in large areas of protected peatland before the current protection efforts (WRI).
How Can You Help
There are lots of ways you can support orangutans and help ensure the survival of this precious ape.
Adopt an Orangutan
Orangutans are endangered and at risk of extinction. Habitat destruction means hundreds of orphan orangutans need to care for every year. You can help by adopting one. Their dedicated ‘nannies’ teach them everything they need to know for when it’s time to release them back to the wild. You can follow their progress through Forest School.Adopt Now
Make a Donation
Please help the Orangutans in their struggle for survival. Your donation is important and goes directly to BOS Indonesia. By donating, you are helping bring this noble yet endangered species back from the brink of extinction and on a path to freedom - from rescue to rehabilitation and release.Donate Now
Visit Our Shop
The perfect gift for any occasion! Choose from our selection of instant gifts that directly support our orangutans. You can buy a wheelbarrow, provide food for an orangutan for two months or lots more. You will receive a certificate, personalised with the name of your choice - perfect gift for you or a friend.Shop Now