Bornean Orangutan | WWF Indonesia

Bornean Orangutan

Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus

In Borneo, based on genetic studies, it is identified there are three subspecies of orangutan, namely: Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus in the northwest of Borneo, Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii in central Borneo and Pongo pygmaeus morio in the northeastof Borneo. From the three Bornean subspecies, the central bornean orangutans (P.p. wurmbii) are the largest of, the northeast bornean orangutans (P.p. morio) are the smallest.

It is estimated there were about 54,000 orangutan in Borneo island, both in Indonesian and Malaysian parts in 2004 (Wich et all 2008).Among the three subspecies of Bornean orangutan, P.p. pygmaeus is the most threatened. It is estimated there are 3,000 to 4,500 individuals persist in West Kalimantan and marginally in Sarawak, less than eight percent of the total of Bornean orangutan population.

Physical Description

The Bornean orangutan is one of the greatest apes in the world. It is also the world’s largest arboreal mammals.  They have long, shaggy, dark red-brown hair. Facial color ranges from pink to red to black. They have long arms that are useful for reaching fruits and brachiating. Scoop-like hands and feet have powerful grips for grasping branches. Cheek pads in adult males make the face look larger, although not all the adult males have cheek pads. A throat pouch is inflated to produce loud, long calls to alert their whereabouts. Adult males weigh between 50 to 90 kg and can stand 1.25 to 1.5 m in height, while adult females weigh between 30 to 50 kg and stand about one meter in height.


The Bornean orangutans are an endangered and fully protected species in Indonesia legislation. This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Some major threats include habitat loses, illegal logging, forest fires, poaching and pet trade. In each year of the last decade, at least 1.2 million hectare of Indonesia’s forest have been lost to large scale logging activities, forest conversion, such as for agriculture, plantations, mining and settlements and illegal logging. The forest fires caused by the El Nino climatic event and the severe drought in Borneo have impacted to reduce the population of orangutan. During the past 20 years, the habitat of the Bornean orangutan has been reduced by at least 55 percent. In addition, the conflict between human in agricultural lands and the demand for young orangutans as pets still become one of the threats of orangutan population.

WWF’s work for Bornean Orangutan conservation

WWF works with many stakeholders including the Indonesian government, other organizations and the local people in order to save and reduce the destruction of orangutan’s habitat. There are three strategic components of WWF’s works in the heart of Borneo:

  1. Create a network of protected areas as a refuge for key species such as the orangutan.
  2. Connect these protected areas with carefully managed ‘ecological corridors’ making sure orangutans and other species can move between them. Ensure that all other land within and bordering the Heart of Borneo without a protected status will be retained as sustainably managed forest land. More than 70% of the estimated wild Bornean orangutan population lives outside protected areas, mostly in logging concessions. Studies show that Bornean orangutans can fare well in forests that are logged if reduced impact logging is implemented through Sustainable Forest Management, logging is done selectively, fruit trees are kept intact, and hunting is closely controlled.

1.            Awareness campaigns on orangutan conservation programs to specific target groups, especially the local people living adjacent the orangutan habitat.WWF also implements some orangutan conservation projects in West and Central Kalimantan. In West Kalimantan, it is specifically targeted at P.p.pygmaeus in Betung Kerihun and Danau Sentarum National Park and also the corridor in between the national park.  Both of the national parks are located in Kapuas Hulu district.   While in the concession areas in Ketapang District the sub species target is P.p. wurmbii. In Central Kalimantan, orangutan conservation project is focused in orangutan habitat in Sebangau National Park.