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The Sumatran Orangutan


The meaning of the word 'Orang Utan' is itself something quite magical. It comes from Malay, translating to “person of the forest".

With a genetic similarity of 97%, as this name suggest, the orangutan is likely to be the closest human relative. 

Orangutans are listed as critically endangered. In the past, the Sumatran orangutan would have been distributed over all of Sumatra and even towards Java. These days, the species is only located in North Sumatra and Aceh. 

While poaching and hunting are still threats to orangutans, the single biggest threat is habitat loss due to deforestation. It is clear that palm oil plantations are killing the orangutan and so much of Sumatra's wildlife.

Orangutans are frugivores, meaning they primarily eat fruit. If Orangutans were to disappear, so would several tree species, especially those with larger seeds, since orangutans play a vital role in the dispersal of seeds over a huge area. 

The Sumatran orangutan is an arboreal animal; meaning it lives up in the trees of tropical rainforests. It is usual with wild orangutans that they will almost never travel on the ground. 

When jungle trekking in the Gunung Leuser National Park, near Bukit Lawang, it is quite normal to see semi-wild orangutans moving from trees to the ground. These semi-wild orangutans were reintroduced into the wild during the rehabilitated started in the 1970's. They have now successfuly learned how to survive again in the wild, quite an incredible achievement. 

The best time of year to see wild orangutans in Sumatra is during dry season; March to October. However,  in theory Bukit Lawang is an all-year-round destination as the semi-wild orangutans rarely venture far from the border. If you were to visit during wet-season you should expect to endure rain fall most afternoons. 

Our motto at Sumatra Orangutan Discovery is: "take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints, keep nothing but memories"

 We are passionate to ensure the sustainability of trekking in this region. Therefore all our certified guides strictly follow the jungle guidelines as set by the Indonesian Tourist Guides Association..

If you want to know more about how to support the orangutans, please visit the Sumatran Orangutan Society.

If you want to know more about jungle best practices and how to avoid causing any damange to the environment, please check out our blog; Tips for Responsible Jungle Trekking

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