New species of orangutan discovered in Indonesia

New species of orangutan discovered in Indonesia
By Selina Sykes

Scientists have discovered a new species of orangutan.

These fuzzy-haired orangutans are the latest species to join the great ape family.

The primates on Samatra island in Indonesia are the first to be discovered by scientists in nearly 90 years.

But the newly found species, which researchers named Pongo tapanuliensis is already at risk of becoming extinct.

Fewer than 800 orangutans are thought to exist across a 1,000 km squared area, making it the most endangered great ape species.

The apes are struggling to compete against shrinking forests and threats of hunting.

Ian Singleton, the director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, said: “There’s always threats of new road and things which will fragment populations and render a potentially population into two potentially extinct ones. In the Batang Toru (area) the sad thing is, or the challenge is that there is major hydro-electric programme planned in the valley of Batang Toru river, which actually has the highest density of Orangutans in their entire habitat block.”

The species was first identified after scientists found it had a smaller skull.

The primates are also differentiated by their long booming calls and cinnamon-coloured frizzy hair.

Experts say the discovery highlights the importance of conservation – and that there might even be further species of ape to be discovered.

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