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Wild Man from BorneoA Cultural History of the Orangutan$
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Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824837143

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824837143.001.0001

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On the Edge

On the Edge

Conservation and the Threat of Extinction

Chapter:
(p.209) 9 On the Edge
Source:
Wild Man from Borneo
Author(s):

Robert Cribb

Helen Gilbert

Helen Tiffin

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824837143.003.0009

This chapter focuses on orangutans' decline toward extinction. The red apes' dwindling in numbers is underpinned by basic features of animals' biology. As with all apes, the natural reproduction rate of orangutans is slow. Females do not normally give birth before they are fifteen years old, and they typically have no more than four offspring in a lifetime, with intervals of several years between births. For tree dwellers with few natural predators, this basic biology is unproblematic and allows for the investment of time and energy in the socialization of a small number of children. Orangutans in the wild seem to have life spans of more than fifty years. The slow pace of reproduction, however, means that the loss of individuals through hunting or other catastrophes cannot quickly be made up for.

Keywords:   red apes, orangutans, animal biology, natural reproduction, offspring, tree dwellers

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