Dean M. Chriss
Photography
Man of the Forest, Orangutan, Malaysia

Man of the Forest, Orangutan, Malaysia

(Click image to enlarge)

In English we call them orangutan. In Malay they are "orang utan", which means "man of the forest". With a 96.4% genetic match to humans, the similarities between us and these intelligent apes are more than the stuff of myth and legend. They are our closest relative and the second largest ape in the world. It is estimated that a total of 10,000 - 24,000 orangutans exist in the wild. They are found in Malaysia and Indonesia, on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In the last twenty years more than 80% of the orangutan's lowland forest habitat has vanished. If habitat destruction and other threats are not checked, the orangutan will likely be extinct within the next few decades.

Some adult male orangutans develop large cheeks several years after reaching maturity. Only the dominant adult males develop these features which set them apart from the rest. Compare this mature alpha male to another adult male orangutan to see the difference.