Bornean orangutan in Indonesia.
August 19 is World Orangutan Day, a designation intended to raise awareness about the great red ape, which is threatened by habitat loss, the pet trade, and hunting.
Once distributed across much of southeast Asia, today orangutans are only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Both species of orangutan — the Sumatran and the Bornean — are considered endangered by the IUCN.
Biologists rate subsistence hunting and conversion of rainforest habitat for industrial plantations — especially for palm oil production — as the biggest risks for orangutans. In fact, the plight of orangutans has catalyzed widespread support for campaigns to reform the palm oil sector, recently pushing companies to adopt policies that conserve habitats that sustain the primates as well as countless other species.
The following pictures show orangutans in a variety of sites across Indonesia and Malaysia, including individuals in rescue centers, semi-wild habitats within protected areas, and the wild. All photos taken by Rhett A. Butler.
Adult male orangutan in Tanjung Puting Reserve
Recently rescued infant orangutan at a rescue center run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme in North Sumatra.
Bornean orangutan in Central Kalimantan
Baby orangutan in a diaper at a rehabilitation center in Sumatra
An adult male orangutan with a large face plate in Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra
Orphaned orangutan at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s facility in Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan
Pair of orphaned orangutans at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Malaysia
Rehabilitated orangutan at Camp Leakey, a facility run by Orangutan Foundation International in Central Kalimantan
Infant Sumatran orangutan with a conservation worker
Young orangutan at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s facility in Nyaru Menteng in Indonesian Borneo
Baby Sumatran orangutan
Rescued orangutan on an orangutan island in Indonesian Borneo
An adult Sumatran orangutan that has been put under before it is transferred to be released into the wild
Group of orphaned orangutans learning to find food at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s facility in Nyaru Menten
Bornean orangutan in Indonesian Borneo
Baby orangutan in a diaper
Infant orangutan getting a check up at a rescue center run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme in North Sumatra
Mother orangutan carrying her baby near Gunung Leuser National Park in Morth Sumatra