World’s rarest great ape is on the brink of extinction

Less than 800 Tapanuli orangutans remain confined to the small mountainous region of Batang Toru in North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Recognized as a separate species only in 2017, the Tapanuli orangutans suffered a staggering 83 percent decline in just three generations, and retain a mere 2.7 percent of their original habitat occupied 130 years ago.

According to Erik Meijaard, lead author of the recent study and founder of conservation group Borneo Futures, if more than 1 percent of the adult population is extracted — that is killed, translocated or captured — from the wild every year, the species’s extinction is inevitable, which would signal the first great ape extinction in modern times.

By analyzing previously unknown and unpublished historical records, the new research contradicts existing scientific claims with two main arguments: Firstly, the Tapanuli orangutans are driven toward extinction in their original habitat due to unsustainable hunting and habitat fragmentation which continue to plague the species.

Secondly, because they were forced from their natural habitat, they are not adapted to living in highland conditions, and should instead occupy a more diverse range of environments for a better chance of survival, including lowland forests and peatlands.

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Source: the Hill