Extinct Animals : Orangutan
Wild populations of this peaceful, intelligent, fruit-eating ape are now found only in northern Sumatra and Borneo. Judging from fossils found in southern China and northern Vietnam, the orangutan was, in prehistoric times, more widely distributed throughout the tropical lowland forests of southeast Asia. The world population now numbers between 15,000 and 30,000 in the wild and about 500 in zoos.
The major cause for the recent decline is the continuing destruction of the forests, and, to a lesser extent, the illegal killing of adult females to obtain juveniles for the animal trade. The species is now fully protected by law throughout its range, but enforcement is difficult in remote areas. Existing reserves in Sumatra and Borneo are important in the orangutan's survival. Additional reserves, forest management, and stricter control of international trade are also essential.