Other Animals

Orangutan population falls by 25 every day — and food we eat is to blame

He may be King of the Swingers, the jungle VIP, but King Louie and his friends will be no more if man continues its relentless and greedy march of destruction.

Alarming new figures show that the orangutan population is falling by 25 every day. Monday is World Orangutan Day and animal lovers are asked to raise awareness in a bid to save them from extinction.

The future of the orangutan species is hanging by a thread (Image: Getty)

A century ago there were more than 230,000 orangutans living throughout South East Asia, the World Wildlife Fund reveals.

Today, that number has shrunk to 41,000 in Borneo and 7,500 in Sumatra, the only places where they can be found.

They remain under constant threat as large swathes of rainforest have been ripped up for farmland, palm oil plantations and urban development.

Palm oil is used in a huge array of foods – from ice cream to pizza, bread to chocolate – as well as cosmetics, detergents and biofuel.

But before plantation begins, fires are commonly started to clear the land.

Many run out of control and neighbouring forests are torched, killing orang-utans trapped in the canopy.

A young orangutan hangs about in Borneo (Image: Getty)
Orangutans, like this little baby, have been almost totally wiped out by human industry (Image: Getty)

In 1997 and 1998 forest fires devastated Borneo and Sumatra.

One-third of the entire orangutan population perished in the deforestation and a following drought which ravaged the islands.

Many orangutans which escaped the fires ended up on plantations and in villages – hungry and seeking relief from the inferno behind them.

Starving, tired, wounded or sick, they were easy prey for poachers who could sell meat from the adults and put the babies up for sale.

Mothers were butchered and their offspring were plucked off their dead and dying bodies to be sold into the illegal pet trade.

It was a barbaric example of man’s callous disregard for these fine creatures.

Now wildlife charities urge people to act to protect their habitats. Otherwise these jungle VIPs could be lost for ever.

This article was first published by The Mirror on 17 August 2019.

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