YGA Journal | Article

World Orangutan Day

Embracing the Rainforest

Swing into the intriguing world of orangutans this World Orangutan Day, exploring their critical ecological role, the threats they face from deforestation and illegal trade, and the collective efforts needed to protect them. Learn how you can contribute to their survival through informed consumer choices, awareness campaigns, and support for reputable conservation organizations in this insightful article!


Published August 19, 2023

Written by Reet K. Brar

High amidst the rainforest trees, a curious creature roams swinging on the branches with its powerful arms – the orangutan. Its auburn fur glows like autumn leaves, and its eyes reflect the wisdom of ages and the many man-made horrors it has witnessed. Every year on August 19th, people all across the world come together to celebrate World Orangutan Day, an international event aimed at raising awareness about these critically endangered primates. This day serves as a platform to educate individuals about the vital role orangutans play in maintaining the balance of our ecosystems and the urgent need to protect their habitats. The name orangutan means “man of the forest” in the Malay language and their scientific name is Pongo. (Orangutan) World Orangutan Day emphasizes the importance of responsible actions and collective efforts we must make as humans to protect these remarkable creatures for future generations. (International Orangutan Day)

Family of orangutans enjoying a meal (Mills)

World Orangutan Day holds immense importance due to the critical state of orangutan populations worldwide. Orangutans inhabit the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and are primarily found in Borneo and Sumatra. Their genetic composition is 96.4% similar to the genetics of human beings, making them captivating subjects for both scientific study and public fascination. (International Orangutan Day). The origins of World Orangutan Day can be traced back to a joint initiative by several conservation organizations whose primary goal was to increase awareness about the challenges orangutans face, create support for their conservation, and promote sustainable practices that increase their chance of survival in the wilderness. These apes are considered critically endangered due to habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade, and poaching. Understanding the behaviour and habitat of orangutans is vital to ensure they are being protected and conserved effectively. Orangutans are known for their arboreal lifestyle, meaning they are a species that lives in trees. Their diet consists of wild fruits like lychees, mangosteens, figs, leaves, insects, and their source of water comes from holes in trees! They make their nests out of the vegetation in the forest where they can sleep and rest throughout the day. With deforestation and habitat fragmentation on the rise, orangutans face the dire consequences of losing their homes and food sources. Conservation efforts not only aim to protect orangutans themselves but also to save the rich biodiversity found in their ecosystems (Orangutan) 

Orangutans in their destroyed habitat (Davis)

The primary threat to orangutans is habitat loss caused by illegal logging, agricultural expansion, and palm oil production. The palm oil industry, in particular, has been a major driver of deforestation in orangutan habitats. Additionally, illegal hunting claims the lives of over 3000 Orangutans every year. This leads specialists to believe that these great apes will be extinct in the next 50 years (International Orangutan Day). Organizations such as the Orangutan Conservancy and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme are working tirelessly to combat these threats through habitat restoration, anti-poaching patrols, and public awareness campaigns (Shaik) Despite the challenges, there have been significant success stories in orangutan conservation. The establishment of protected areas, wildlife corridors, along with the adoption of sustainable palm oil practices by some companies, highlights the positive impact that collective action can have. (Habitat protection)

Volunteers aiding the baby orangutans (Newman)

How YOU can take action! 

As responsible global citizens, there are several actionable steps we can take to contribute to orangutan conservation 

  1. Support Reputable Organizations: Contribute to reputable conservation organizations that focus on orangutan protection and habitat preservation, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Orangutan Foundation International.
  2. Make Informed Consumer Choices: Be mindful of the products you purchase and opt for sustainable palm oil products. Look for certifications like RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) to ensure the safety of these apes.
  3. Spread Awareness: Educate your friends, family, and social circles about the challenges orangutans face. Share content from credible sources on social media to amplify and spread the message. You can use any media platform to get your point across, get creative!
  4. Get Involved: Participate in local conservation events, volunteer for wildlife sanctuaries, and engage in activities that contribute to orangutan protection.

As this global effort continues, staying updated on progress and ongoing conservation initiatives is essential. Together, we can ensure that orangutans have a fighting chance at survival. Through education, awareness, and tangible actions, we can contribute to the survival of these remarkable creatures and the ecosystems they call home. Let us come together on August 19th to celebrate the beauty of orangutans and work towards a future where they can sustainably thrive in their natural habitats! 


Davis, Felton. “Record High Deforestation Hits Sumatra’s ‘Orangutan Capital’ as Palm Oil Industry Expands.” Eco-Business, 29 Mar. 2023,  www.eco-business.com/news/record-high-deforestation-hits-sumatras-orangutan-capital-as-palm -oil-industry-expands/. 

“Habitat Protection.” SOCP, www.sumatranorangutan.org/our-work/habitat-protection/. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023. 

“International Orangutan Day.” International Orangutang Day – August 19, 2023, 20 Apr. 2022, nationaltoday.com/international-orangutan-day/. 

Mills, Beth. “Borneo Facts.” The Great Projects, 25 May 2023, www.thegreatprojects.com/blog/borneo-facts-learn-more-about-the-island. 

Newman, Joe. “Saving Orangutans.” Focus on the Story, focusonthestory.org/2020/07/01/grant-winner-exposes-toxic-mining-impact-on-perus-indigenous -people/saving-orangutans/. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023. 

“Orangutan.” WWF, www.worldwildlife.org/species/orangutan. Accessed 14 Aug. 2023. 

Shaik, Carla. “9 Best Charities for Protecting Orangutans (Complete 2023 List).” Impactful Ninja, 2023, impactful.ninja/best-charities-for-orangutans/#:~:text=Borneo%20Orangutan%20Survival%20(B OS)%20was,%2C%20rehabilitation%2C%20and%20release%20programs. 

“Sumatran Orangutan.” Saint Louis Zoo, stlzoo.org/animals/mammals/lemurs-monkeys-apes/sumatran-orangutan. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023.