The orangutan ascendants were found in many places. That included areas of India and Vietnam. Current orangutans are native to the areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. However, due to the destruction of their natural habitat you won’t find them there anymore.
Those remaining orangutans in the wild now live in parts of Asia. They are namely in Borneo and Sumatra which is where the names for the two distinct species came to be how we identify them. Even the early evidence of hunting during prehistoric times is part of the reason why the distribution for them is now limited to certain areas. Humans have long been a threat to them no matter where they are though.
The orangutans don’t swim but researchers have seen that can play in the water, although this is not part of their daily activities. It also isn’t instinctive but a learned behavior if they do take part in it.
The fact that the orangutan distribution is so fragmented out there has made it hard for a long time to get a good count of them. This is one of the reasons why they numbers got so low before too much was publicly known about it. However, the fact is that for more than 20 years many conservation groups have been working hard to get the message out there.
However, you also have the villagers and illegal hunters that know the distribution of the orangutans too well. It is harder and harder for these animals to stay hidden due to their limited habitat. As a result they are being killed off in huge numbers. Sometimes it is for sport and other times it is to have food for the villagers.
There are some great facilities out there that help orangutans in the wild that are in danger. They will be taken in and cared for but then returned to the wild as soon as they possibly can. This includes orphans that would have died without their mother. Not all of these animals are able to be returned to the wild though. Many of them have problems that warrant them to remain in captivity for the rest of their lives.
Research shows that orangutans are extremely adaptable animals. One possibility is to relocate some of them that have been taken in to new areas. However, there isn’t enough information to know if they have a good chance of survival. With the number of orangutans out there dangerously low, it is hard to get the green light to take the risk and find out.
As the number of orangutans out there continues to decrease, so does their habitat. Where you will find them distributed has drastically fallen in the past 20 years. This is due to the huge number of them killed for hunting, smuggled as pets, and the millions of acres of rainforest that are cut down annually. All of this continues to threaten the future for these animals.
If we are going to be able to successfully save the orangutan populations then stricter laws have to be put into place where they are distributed. Those laws also have to be enforced so that there is less of a risk of future problems for these animals. The numbers are so low right now that it will be a struggle to keep them out there in the wild. Researchers continue to try to find a good plan of action too for introducing them to new locations. However, most feel this would only be a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.