According to recent observations on the island of Borneo (see Mongabay, 23 Sep 10, link below), orangutans are able to use selectively logged forests and timber plantations as their habitat. While more research is needed to determine exactly how such environments are utilized, the findings provide hope that orangutans may be able to maintain themselves throughout more varied habitats than previously believed, thus increasing their chances of survival.
This is important as during the last decades the greatest part of the speciesí original habitats has been destroyed in various ways, often cleared by logging or replaced by oil palm and other tree plantations. For example, on the island of Borneo by the year 2000 over 60 % of the original tropical forest had been lost (see IUCN Red List, link below). Deforestation is ongoing, not only in Borneo but also in Sumatra, where the survival of orangutans appears even more precarious (see Australian Orangutan Foundation, 13 May 09, link below).
The total population may now be of the order of 50,000, down from an estimated half a million a century ago (see Mongabay, 12 Aug 10, link below, also IUCN Red List).
While important uncertainties remain regarding these figures (see Environmental New Network, 14 Apr 09, link below), the downward trend remains unchanged, due to continuing habitat destruction and loss (see Mongabay, 13 May 09, link below) as well as hunting and the pet trade (see Reuters, 15 Apr 09, link below, also IUCN Red List).