Unfortunately, there are many threats to the remaining wild populations of orangutans. Deforestation for the benefit of oil palm plantations, mining, infrastructure, illegal logging, forest and peat fires, illegal hunting, and illegal wildlife trade are just a few of the threats against the wild orangutans.

At Save the Orangutan, we categorise the threats against the orangutan as threats to orangutan habitats or as threats to the individual orangutan. All threats must be eliminated to save the critically endangered orangutan.

The orangutan’s natural habitats are disappearing

If the orangutan species is to survive in the wild, protection and conservation of their natural habitats is a necessity. Unfortunately, several threats put constant pressure on the orangutan habitats. We have listed the biggest threats below.


Illegal logging

Forest and peat fires

Locals' lack of rights
The primary threat to the orangutan’s habitats is deforestation for the benefit of oil palm plantations, mining, and infrastructure. In addition, forest and peat fires degrade the forests further. Over 60 percent of orangutan habitats in Indonesia and Malaysia have been destroyed in the past four decades. Recent estimates show there may be less than 100,000 orangutans left in the world (IUCN Red List). Approximately 50,000-100,000 in Borneo and about 15,000 in Sumatra. Borneo and Sumatra are the only natural habitats of the three orangutan species. Recent estimates indicate an annual loss of 3,000-5,000 orangutans.

Orangutans are innocent victims of illegal activities

Other threats that often go hand-in-hand with the degradation of the rainforest include illegal wildlife trade and hunting. These threats carry serious consequences for the individual orangutans.

The orangutan often becomes an innocent victim in human-orangutan conflicts as a result of human development activities. We have listed the biggest threats to the orangutan arising from human-orangutan conflicts below.

Illegal wildlife trade

Hunting and poaching

Ignorance and fear

An annual estimate of 200-500 orangutans are sold on the international illegal wildlife market. The orangutans are popular as pets and in the entertainment industry. However, the actual number of traded orangutans may be even larger as the estimate only reflects international trade.

In addition to threats arising from human-orangutan conflicts due to human development activities, the orangutan is extremely vulnerable due to its relatively long reproduction cycle. Female orangutans do not reach sexual maturity until they are 14-16 years old, and they give birth only once every seven to nine years. Moreover, an orangutan is dependent on its mother for the first 8 years of its life. Read more about the orangutan's slow reproduction cycle here >>

The survival of the orangutan is threatened, and the threats grow larger and increase in numbers every day. Some experts predict the wild orangutan will be extinct in 20 years unless the orangutan habitats are effectively protected, and the illegal hunting of and trade in orangutans are ceased.


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palm oil 
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illegal trade
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