4 July, 2024

By Abd. Wahab 

Have you ever dreamed of coming face to face with the Bornean orangutan in the wild? This incredible creature is one of the endemic animals in Indonesia, and you can only see them inside the rainforest of Borneo. Sadly, they are critically endangered, with their population numbers decreasing due to habitat loss. 

As a nature lover, your travels can help and contribute to the Bornean orangutan conservation. You can join the Orangutan Borneo tour to visit these amazing animals in their natural habitat, learn more about the species, and support the conservation efforts while having an unforgettable experience encountering them in the wild. 

But, before you go on your adventure, you can learn more about the fascinating world of the Bornean orangutan and how your travels can make a difference.  

Bornean Orangutan Facts

two borneo orangutan

Here are several Bornean Orangutan facts you need to know before going on your tour and encountering them in their natural habitat:  

Species: What is the Difference Between Orangutans and Bornean Orangutans?  

The Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is one of the three orangutan species in the world besides the Sumatran (Pongo abelii) and Tapanuli (Pongo tapanuliensis). They are known for their long and shaggy reddish-brown or orange hair on nearly their whole body, long arms one and a half times longer than their leg, curled fingers and feet, and bare faces with round eyes and small ears.  

But what makes the Bornean orangutan different from the other orangutans is the Bornean Orangutan has a darker hair color and a larger body than the Sumatran Orangutan. 

Habitat: Where Do Bornean Orangutans Live?  

The Bornean Orangutans are native to and can be found only in Borneo, Southeast Asia. There are three Bornean orangutan subspecies, and they live on the island in three different areas. 

The Northwest Bornean Orangutan lives in Sarawak, Malaysia, and West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Northeast Bornean Orangutans inhabit Sabah, Malaysia, and two Indonesian provinces in the North and East Kalimantan. The other one, the Southwest Bornean Orangutan, also known as the central Bornean Orangutan, can be found only in the West and Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. 

Diet: What Do Bornean Orangutans Eat?  

The Bornean Orangutan is a frugivorous species, meaning that they mostly eat fruits, and their favorite is wild figs and durians. They also consume leaves, flowers, bark, insects, and honey.  

Besides their diet, orangutans play a crucial role in the Borneo ecosystem. By ingesting seeds as they eat a wide variety of fruits and traveling long distances to help disperse seeds, which contributes to the forest’s health. 

Size: Weight and Height  

The males of the Bornean Orangutan are giants compared to the females. It can weigh up to 50 to 90 kg and reach a height of 1,25 to 1,5 meters. In comparison, the females can weigh around 30 to 50 kg and stand at the height of 1 meter. 

Lifespan: How Long Do Bornean Orangutans Live?  

In the wild, Bornean orangutans can live up to 35 to 40 years, and sometimes they can live up to 60 years in captivity. 

Population: Why Are Bornean Orangutan Endangered and How Many Are Left?

The Bornean Orangutan is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List, with a population estimated to be between 45,000 and 69,000 individuals and decreasing.  

The main threats to Bornean Orangutans are habitat loss due to deforestation for palm oil plantations, illegal logging, and wildfires. Additionally, thousands of orangutans are killed annually for meat consumption, which is one of the biggest threats to their population. 

Friendliness: Are Bornean Orangutans Friendly to Humans?  

Orangutans are not naturally aggressive or engage in violence, but they are wild animals. They are commonly known as peaceful animals but can be aggressive when mistreated.  

The other thing is they are stronger than humans with their strong hands, feet, and bite. So, keeping a safe distance when encountering them in the wild is a good action. 

Where to See Orangutans in Borneo, Indonesia

guests cruising the river to see the bornean orangutan

Borneo is a large island in Southeast Asia occupied by three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. You can see the Bornean Orangutans in both Indonesia and Malaysia. If you are planning to see orangutans in Borneo, here are some top locations to consider: 

1. Sebangau National Park – Central Kalimantan, Indonesia 

Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan is one of the few remaining peat swamp forests of Borneo, covering around 568,700 hectares. The park is home to over 6,000 to 9,000 orangutans, making it one of the world’s largest populations of wild orangutans. The place is very accessible, and it only took 20 minutes from Cilik Riwut Palangkaraya Airport to the National Park.  

2. Tanjung Puting National Park – Central Kalimantan, Indonesia 

Tanjung Puting National Park is known as one of the wild orangutan rehabilitation areas. One of the best ways to see the Bornean Orangutan there is by traveling on a Klotok, a river houseboat. You can easily reach the park by booking a tour that includes transportation. While visiting, you can also check out Camp Leaky, a research and rehabilitation facility where you can meet wildlife researchers and see the Bornean Orangutans up close. 

3. Kutai National Park – East Kalimantan, Indonesia 

Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan is home to about two thousand orangutans. Despite suffering from deforestation and fires in the past, the park is on the road to recovery and is still worth visiting. There are two main access points to the park: Sangkima and Prevab. Sangkima is located along the road between Sangatta and Bontang and offers good opportunities for encountering orangutans. Prevab is accessible by a 25-minute boat ride on the Sangatta river. Visitors will need a permit and a local guide to trek through the park. 

4. Betung Kerihun National Park – West Kalimantan, Indonesia: 

Betung Kerihun National Park place is near the border of Malaysian Borneo in Sarawak. It has four main waterways and small villages with houses on the riverbanks called Long Houses. You can explore the park by bike on narrow pathways between villages, with the chance to encounter orangutans as you ride through the forest. 

5. Gunung Palung National Park – West Kalimantan, Indonesia 

Gunung Palung National Park has diverse habitats like mangroves, swamps, and lowland forests. The park became an official National Park in 1990, and recently, local villagers have taken control of tours in the area. Unlike other tourist spots, the park has no proper pathways or roads. Also, the orangutans in the park are not used to seeing people, which makes it a bit harder to find them, but it will be more rewarding when you finally see them swinging through the trees. 

How to See Orangutans in Borneo Responsibly 

photos of rescued borneo orangutan

Being a responsible traveler is crucial when encountering animals, especially endangered animals like the Bornean Orangutan. Here are some things to know for an ethical Borneo orangutan tour: 

  • Choose companies, travel agents, or tour operators committed to responsible tourism practices and supporting the environment. 
  • When you are in the wild nature, respect the location, culture, rules, and the wild animals you encounter. Especially for orangutans, avoid taking any actions that might stress them. 
  • You can also support any conservation efforts around the area, like the Borneo Orangutan Survival Centre (BOS), and learn about their rehabilitation into the wild. 

Tips Before Planning Your Borneo Orangutan Tour

guest taking picture of the orangutan

Now that you know about Bornean orangutans and how to see them responsibly, it’s time to plan your dream Borneo orangutan tour. Here are some tips to consider: 

  1. Choose the right time: The dry season (April to August) has the best weather for rainforest exploration. 
  1. Consider how long you want to tour: Borneo orangutan tours come in all lengths, from quick 1-day trips to longer 3-day or even 14-day adventures, depending on your time and interests. 
  1. Think about your fitness level: Some tours involve walking or trekking, so pick one that fits your abilities. 
  1. Look into reputable tour operators: Travel companies or agents that support the environment are a good option. 
  1. Pack the right things: Bring your comfortable clothes, strong shoes, binoculars, and a reusable water bottle. 

Plan Your Unforgettable Borneo Orangutan Tour 

Borneo awaits you with its beautiful rainforests, incredible wildlife, and the chance to see the Bornean orangutan. Let us know if you need help planning your Orangutan Borneo tour, or you can learn more about our our available Borneo trip