Research Paper On Considering Social Behavior Of Orangutans In Relation To Their Environment

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Orangutan, Species, Sociology, Life, Slavery, Adult, Culture, Adulthood

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/18

Social behavior of most animals, especially the primates (ape) species is irrefutably an area of interest in the field of Anthropology. It is in cognizance of the fact that they possess essential characteristics and general attributes that can be deemed related and critical in social contexts. Thus, it is in the light of the above that this research paper presents an informed viewpoint of the social behavior of the orangutans in relation to their environment. Notably, their environments include both the wild and in captivity.
Physical Description: The orangutans are extremely hairy ape species and indeed the furthermost arboreal of the bigger apes. Significantly, they have reddish-brown hair, which typically distinguishes them from most of the other larger apes that are epitomized with either black or brown hair colors. Nonetheless, the coloring of the orangutans varies ominously based on the sexes. Their sex is also a characteristic that delineates their overall looks and sizes.
Notably, Price (1) states that the male orangutan species (adults, to be precise) possess distinguishing cheek pads and commonly voice out long calls due to their throat pouches, which is essential for intimidating adversaries and respectively, enticing females. Nonetheless, the younger male orangutans lack these salient characteristics and tend to take after their mothers. It is an epitome of all the younger orangutan species.
In addition to the above, the orangutans have a remarkably large head with broader mouth area. They also have hairless faces mostly; the adult males can develop hair growth. The orangutans’ hands have four fingers accompanied by an opposable thumb that allows for the necessary arrangement and adaptation for arboreal locomotion. Their hands present a sort of the suspensory hook clutch based on the resting modification of their fingers.
Their feet, on the other hand, have long toes accompanied by an opposable big toe. It adds to their feature of being able to grasp objects with the feet too in addition to their hands. Moreover, their hip joints are marked with a distinctive suppleness just like their shoulders, and this makes them retain lesser constraint in their locomotion. Finally, the orangutans have remarkable sizes based on their sexes as had been mentioned earlier on. The female orangutans are capable of growing up to nearly 4ft 2inches with a weight of 45.4 kilograms. The adult males, on the other hand, can reach 5ft 9inches in height and can exceed 118 kilograms in weight.


The orangutans are out right foragers in their dietary behaviours. Suggestively, they feed a lot of the fruits in the wild, and they exhibit likeness for the more sugary ones and the ones possessing fatty pulp. An example of a fruit mostly eaten by the orangutan species is the Ficus fruits as they are easily available in the wild where the orangutans live so they so they can be acquired (Bastian, 177). Moreover, their digestion is comparatively easier. As such, this can be availed by them even in captivity. Also, the Durian fruits are enjoyed by the orangutans (Sumatran Orangutan Society, 1).
Likewise, the orangutans, mainly the Bornean orangutans are known to feed on a wide variety of food items. These are often with the inclusion of the budding leaves, insects, and bird eggs, barks of trees, honey and shoots, among others. Interestingly, the orangutans have also been observed to portray a practice of eating the soft rocks or soil. These are arguably important in enriching their mineral nutrient needs and absorption of toxic elements within their digestive systems (consumption of clay). Also, their bodily disorder management, for instance, stomach issues and diarrhea (Bastian, 182).

Material culture

The orangutan species, just like other primates have exhibited a substantial manufacturing of tools and their use as appropriate. Often, this is a mixture of both rudimentary and sophisticated tool manufacture methods depending on their use. Apparently, the manufactured tools are usually for foraging purposes. As such, the first example is the insect-extraction tools. These are momentously apt in the seeking of insect species from the hollows of the trees both within the orangutan’s wild habitat and also in captivity. An example is their use of the sharp stone pieces in both the wild habitats and captivity to dig out their target insect species both from the tree hollows and ground (Kurten, et al., 1810).
Secondly, are the seed extraction tools? These are ideally necessary for the orangutans’ precise and overall comprehensive seed harvesting from the fruits, which are considerably hard-husked. They are often sticks and even rock pieces, which the orangutan species shape and employ in this important harvesting process to allow their feeding on the seeds and overly the fruits associated with them (Van Schawk, 103). Notably, this is often in both the wild habitats and even in their captivity (modified environments).
Thirdly, are the communication tools? These are fairly environment-specific. Thus, associated with some distinct orangutan populations within some definite surrounding, especially the wild. As such, the use of leaves of particular tree species to augment their squeaking sounds. It resembles more of an acoustic communication undertaking the amplification of their sounds especially in the wild, than in captivity. Arguably, they often do this in a bid to cuckold listener (maybe a predator, adversaries or even human beings) mostly to have a consideration that they are exceptionally bigger animals (Kreutzer et al., 1811).
In addition to the above, the orangutan species also prepare shelter tools. It can be argued that they are often their residential places. They often engage in this form of tool manufacture in a bid to protect from some of the extreme weather conditions, such as rains and cold, besides others. A concrete example is the umbrella-sort-of-tools from the big leaves that shelters them particularly from the rains in their wild habitats (Whiten &van Schaik, 613).What is more, they construct intricate nests to sleep in each night made of foliage weaved together, exclusively in the wild.

Social structure

The orangutan species are associated with elaborate cultures that are distinct to their populations. Nonetheless, there are some aspects of their cultures that are ideally reflective of all the orangutan species. Demonstrably, the orangutans lead a more solitary way of life as compared to the other apes, particularly the greater apes.
The bonds between the adult mother orangutans and the younger ones who are mostly dependent on their care and affection. It is not the case with the independent adolescents (irrespective of the sexes) and the adult male orangutans, who exhibit trends to living alone (Sumatran Orangutan Society 1).
Accordingly, the societies made by the orangutan species are substantially categorized with both transient and resident individual characteristics. These are usually of both the sexes. The resident individuals, especially the female species tend to be more aligned to live indefinite home ranges with other females who are typically adults. It is a contrasting epitome of the transient male and females who tend to move extensively.
Another interesting facet of the orangutan species populations in regard to their social behavior in relation to their environment is their locomotion instances. It is epitomized by the fact that they routinely travel alone though they are likely to move in small sets especially during their sub-adult ages (Ahrens 1). Nonetheless, they shed this attribute when they get into an adult stage of their livelihoods.
Customarily, the orangutans’ social structure is practically emit-solitary. Nonetheless, it is symptomatically social. It is demonstrated by the fact that engagements concerning the adult females exhibit a variety of attributes from pleasant to avoidance to incompatible instances (Van Schaik, et al, 103). Likewise, the transient male populace of the orangutan species portrays intersecting slopes of interactions between them with a propensity for being quite aggressive.
What is more is that mating and feeding situations tend to hallmark the social lives of the orangutan species a great deal? Some instances include: first, both the transient and resident species come together on large trees with excess fruits to feed. As such, competition for food is usually low. Therefore, they interact more freely than frequent (Ahrens 1). Secondly, the dispersal phase of their lives is generally symptomatic of future relations in the social lives of this ape species. To be more precise, the male disperse beyond their mothers’ reach and prospectively get into the transient stage. On the other hand, the females habitually resolve to stay in the home ranges, which are nearing their mothers’. Despite this major feat, they rarely tend to possess and exhibit exceptional social bonds with their parents (Whiten &van Schaik, 608).
Finally, the orangutans frequently give birth to one young one at a time, and mostly once or twice in their lifetimes (Price, 1). Debatably, their lives especially in their natural habitats (wild) seem to dictate this dominant accomplishment in the lives of this ape species. More particularly is the upbringing of the young ones, which expressively inclines to take longer duration than may be anticipated for. On average, the mother orangutans stay with their babies up to the time they are at least seven or eight years of age where they teach them much about the ways of forest life (Sumatran Orangutan Society 1). It is moderately a longer duration of time to conceive again in the lives of the orangutan species.


Indeed, the orangutan species among the apes display a substantial depiction of social behavior amongst the animals. These are critically informed by a set of attributes that characterized their beings, life activities and overall social elements. Thus, they seem to cross-cut their lives within wild habitat and in captivity, with subtle variations as from the research above. Furthermore, the physical features, which the ape species possess, are crucial to their survival traits. Their dietary relation defines a significant relationship they have with their ecological factors and ominous respect to their existence. Interestingly, their development and use of tools replicate to their acute relationship to their immediate environments (both at wild and in captivity) and is critically apt based on their precision of use. Lastly, their social structure is irrefutably an impetus to the definite explanation and inclusive implication of their relationships, both internally and in external environments.

Works Cited

Ahrens, Justin, R. The Orangutan “Person of the Forest. University of Wisconsin, April. 2014. Web. 13 March 2015
Bastian, Meredith, L et al. “Diet traditions in wild orangutans,” American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 143.2 (2010):175-187
Krutzen, Michael et al. “Culture and Geographic Variation in Orangutan Behaviour” Science Direct 21.21 (2011): 1808-1812.
Price, Jo. “10 Amazing Orangutan Facts you need to know,” Discover Wildlife.30, May 2012.Web. 13 March 2015
Sumatran Orangutan Society. Orangutan. 2015. Web. 13 March 2015
Van Schaik, Carel, P. et al. “Orangutan cultures and the Evolution of material culture,” Journal of Science, 299.5603 (2003): 102-105
Whiten, Andrew &van Schaik, Carel,P. “The evolution of animal ‘cultures’ and social intelligence,” Philosophical Transactions Royal Society362.1480 (2007):603-620

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