Project Name: Ecotour Fundraiser
About Sophia: Sophia is 12 years old. She has lived in many places so far on her journey. As she says in her blog: "For accommodations we've stayed in a houseboat, in an apartment, in a hotel, in people's houses, on a cruise ship, and in a mud and sticks hut. We also camped in a 2 person pop-up dome tent in the middle of the Serengeti with no fences between us and the animals!" To learn more about Jess's 14-month journey of education and adventure, read her blog at: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/sophslife/1/tpod.html
Why am I doing this?: Her story will tell you why.
Sumatran Orangutans- Among the Endangered
By: Sophia Josephine Schmidt
There are only two places in the world where Orangutans are found. There are only two types of Orangutans left. There is only a certain number of people willing to help the Orangutan's dwindling population. The Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans are found only in Borneo, Indonesia and Sumatra, Indonesia. Bornean Orangutans are endangered, yet the Sumatran Orangutans are not only endangered, they are criticallyendangered. Sumatran Orangutans only have about 10 years left before becoming extinct. I may not even be out of college before they're gone. And then it will be the Bornean Orangutan's turn.
Sumatran Orangutans live out a solitary life compared to Africa's Great Apes, usually only going together to mate, but sometimes feeding together as well. They spend the majority of their life up in the trees, sleeping in nests at night. Sumatran Orangutans most likely originally stayed on the ground for most of their time, but they were pushed up in to the trees to avoid their predator the Sumatran Tiger. Today, the numbers of the Sumatran Tigers are increasingly low, and the Orangutans are not as threatened, yet the furry buddies stay up in the trees.
Sumatran Orangutans are slow animals and spend about 2/5 of their day resting or sleeping, and the other 3/5 feeding and foraging. They are omnivores, eating both plants and animals, but mostly eating fruit. Their favorite is a large, spiky fruit called durian. Durian smells terrible and tastes even worse to most people, but the Orangutans like it!
Female Sumatran Orangutans are able to give birth to their first baby at the age of 12-15. It takes around 9 months for a baby to be born, same as humans. The babies spend the first 5-9 years with their mothers. The Sumatran Orangutans can live up to 45 years or more!
Sumatran Orangutans are similar to humans in many ways. In fact, all orangutans share about 97% of our DNA! They are very smart. More similarities between humans and Orangutans is that both have opposable thumbs. Both have 32 teeth! The activities of Orangutans are much like human's- they joke around and play tricks just like we do! Orangutans also use tools to help themselves out. For example, they may use a stick to test the deepness of water, or a large leaf to cover themselves when it rains.
Sumatran Orangutans live in the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia, in Asia. Sumatra is tropical like the rest of Indonesia, but it is losing it's beautiful rainforests due to logging and other human activities, both legal and illegal. The Orangutans used to be widespread across Sumatra, though today the Sumatran Orangutan is found only in the northern parts.
The loss of vast areas of the tropical rainforests has been the largest threat to the existence of Sumatran Orangutans, and it is affecting many other animals too.
Although the loss of habitat is a large factor in the downfall of Sumatran Orangutans, there are many other reasons that the intelligent primates are not doing so well. Humans hunt and kill the Sumatran Orangutan mothers, leaving them and taking their babies. The babies are then sold as pets for exotic pet trade.
Sumatran Orangutans breed more slowly than any other primate, with females having a maximum of three babies during their whole life. Areas affected by both hunting and habitat loss take a very long time to recover. Sumatra has lost 48% of its natural forest since 1985 as of 2008, and it is estimated that up to 800 Orangutans are being lost every year as a result of habitat destruction and hunting.
Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered, and they may have only about 10 more years left in the wild before going extinct. No one is sure on the exact number of the Sumatran Orangutans today, but the guesses range from 4,000-7,500.
How to help
It may seem like this is a hopeless situation for the Sumatran Orangutans, but it's not. My mom, my sister and I are donating one month of our time to help out the Sumatran Orangutans in whichever way we're needed. Although many people don't have a month to spare, you can help in another way.
Please donate to the Sumatran Orangutans. Anything will help! Even just donating 50 cents adds up to an Orangutan saved!
Want to help Sophie? Here is how you can help Sophie fundraise the required donation to the Orang Utan Republik Foundation. Click on the Paypal button and enter the amount you would like to contribute. Donations on behalf of Sophie to the Foundation are tax-deductible.