Project ORANGS

Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts

About the Issue

Orangutans are a great ape native to Indonesia and Malaysia. The name "orangutan" when translated into English means "man of the forest" and comes from the Malay and Bahasa Indonesian orang (man) and hutan (forest). There are two types of orangutans: the slightly smaller and darker Bornean orangutans and their Sumatran counterparts. The orangutan is the only non-human great ape left in Asia, but their chances of survival are slowly sinking due to human activities such as deforestation, illegal logging and the illegal pet trade.

The exact population of orangutans left in the wild is unknown, but the numbers are definitely dropping at a rapid rate. The most recent estimates suggest that the number of Sumantran orangutans dropped to 6.500 while less than 35,000 orangutans remain in Borneo.

The orangutans are considered to be endangered for three main reasons: illegal logging, the illegal pet trade and deforestation for palm oil plantations. Palm oil plantations are one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction, thousands of acres of rainforest land have been cleared in order to plant massive plantations to produce palm oil. The harvested palm oil is then used in a variety of products including baked good, candy bars, cookies and cosmetics. 

The orangutans' habitat, the rainforest, is disappearing at alarming rates. Indonesia was named in the 2008 Guinness Book of World Records as the country with the fastest rate of deforestation. Indonesia is also the world's 3rd largest emitter of carbond dioxide, behind only China and the United States, primary due to the deforestation of rainforest land. Orangutans will become extinct due to human activities unless we take action to ensure that this incredible great ape is protected.