Birth of a Bornean orangutan

Our female Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) Katja, 23 years old, has just given birth to her second offspring after “Hutan” born in 2015. Hutan must now learn to share his mother with the newborn, a complicated stage for the juvenile great apes and especially for orangutans: among all the primates, this species has the longest-known birth interval (6 to 8 years in the wild) and offspring have the longest period of dependence and exclusive association with their mother.

Classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, the Bornean orangutans face huge pressure in the wild: habitat destruction and fragmentation to the benefit of gigantic palm oil plantations, poaching (for their meat, the illegal pet trade or as a way to minimize conflicts with farmers), forest fires, climate change…

For nearly 20 years, La Palmyre Zoo has been supporting the work of the NGO HUTAN in the state of Sabah in Borneo. It promotes a transversal approach for conserving orangutans. It also considers that the capture of isolated wild orangutans and their translocation to other forested areas actually weakens the dynamics of the metapopulation (1). For Hutan, a new approach to orangutan habitat and management of fragmented populations is needed. Large or small forests can be protected, managed and reconnected to maintain wild orangutans where they currently live. Thus a peaceful coexistence between humans and orangutans would be facilitated instead of removing the animals and then losing the forests.

(1) Population separated by geographic barriers but interconnected by flows of individuals more or less frequent and abundant.