Bornean Orangutan – Pongo pygmaeus


One of only two species of orangutans, the Bornean is the largest of the two. The males are larger than the females, a fact which is common among the great apes. Adult males are about 170 pounds and close to 5 feet tall. The females weigh about 85 pounds and are about 3 ½ feet tall.  They feature a diamond shape face and a coat that is a dark red to orange in color.


As their name suggests, this orangutan is found in Asia along the island of Borneo. They live in tropical and subtropical regions. To help protect them from predators and to find food, they live in the trees. They can range from a few feet off the ground to more than 100.


They are solitary animals and they are very mild in nature. They will protect their territories though, especially the males. Generally, though they will make various noises to each other and one party will run away. It is very seldom that the problem reaches the point of physical aggression.  They generally get around by swinging from tree to tree with their very strong arms.

They are often seen acting silly such as tickling and wrestling. This is common among mothers and their offspring. They form a very strong bond and have great communication between them. This is where researchers are able to collect most of their data about the behaviors of this species of orangutan.

Bornean Orangutan characteristics
Male Bornean Orangutan – Pongo pygmaeus

Diet /Feeding

The majority of their diet consists of various types of fruits. They remember where the different ones grow seasonally and then return to those locations year after year to feed on them. They also consume shoots, leaves, and even the eggs of birds. Sometimes they will eat soil too due to the rich minerals found in it.


The mature males call out to the females when they are looking for a mate. These animals can mate at any time of the year. Females have one offspring and care for it for about 7 years. Therefore they don’t mate very often at all. Low reproduction rates are one of the prime problems with helping these orangutans to increase in numbers.


The Bornean orangutan is on the Red List of endangered animals at this time. It is hard to get a good estimate of how many of them still exist in the wild. The estimate is from 45,000 to 69,000. Even with efforts in place to protect them the illegal trapping and killing of them continues to be a huge threat to their survival. Also, the Covid-19 pandemic is a problem as written here: Orangutans and Coronavirus.

Human interaction

Human interactions are responsible for many of the problems with the Bornean orangutans. The poaching of them, illegal selling of the young as pets, and the destruction of the rainforest where they live are all reasons why so few of them are left in the wild.

Most humans don’t realize that orangutans are able to disperse the seeds of plants and fruits as they move along in the forests. Their eating habits also help to prune the forest to make way for a healthier life to grow in its place. The fact that more humans are starting to understand the role of the Bornean orangutan means that they may be willing to help protect them.

However, too many people simply remember this animal as the one acting silly in the zoo setting. While they can be fun to observe there it is important to remember that they are wild animals. They deserve the opportunity to get out there and explore their natural habitat. Too many humans also try to keep them as pets which is very difficult as they get older and larger.

Bornean orangutan Infographic!

orangutan_world copia

Bornean Orangutan
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