This content is not available in your region
Portraits from series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' selected for Px3 'State of the World' collection. 2021.
Copyright  Mark Edward Harris / Px3

Orangutan portraits capture the humanity of the critically endangered species

By Scott Brownlee

One photographer has proven that eyes really are the window to the soul in these critically endangered great apes.

Mark Edward Harris' photo series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' shines a light on a species whose future is particularly uncertain as habitats of these majestic primates are disappearing rapidly.

Mark Edward Harris / Px3
Portrait from series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' selected for Px3 'State of the World' collection. 2021.Mark Edward Harris / Px3

As a talented (human) portrait photographer, Harris was inspired to create this series after learning that the striking similarities between orangutans and humans date back centuries.

The name orangutan comes from the Malay words 'orang' (people) and 'hutan' (forest).

While modern science has shown that human and orangutan genomes are 97 per cent identical, long before that the Malay people noticed the similarities and gave the name orangutan, which comes from the Malay words 'orang' (people) and 'hutan' (forest).

Mark Edward Harris / Px3
Portrait from series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' selected for Px3 'State of the World' collection. 2021.Mark Edward Harris / Px3
Mark Edward Harris / Px3
Portraits from series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' selected for Px3 'State of the World' collection. 2021.Mark Edward Harris / Px3

Harris' photo series made the curatorial selection for The Prix de la Photographie Paris' (Px3) 'State of the World' photo contest.

The aim of the contest is to share important global stories, in order to focus our eyes and minds on issues that are current and crucial in our world.

Orangutan populations have declined significantly over the past hundred years due to habitat loss and destruction in their native countries Sumatra and Borneo, where forests are giving way to palm oil plantations.

All three species of orangutan are critically endangered according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

All three species of orangutan are critically endangered.

Frighteningly, the population on the island of Borneo has seen local extinctions as orangutan habitats are reduced to an area within the Sabangau National Park.

Mark Edward Harris / Px3
Portrait from series 'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' selected for Px3 'State of the World' collection. 2021.Mark Edward Harris / Px3

'Orangutans On a Thin Vine' will be open to the public when the series is exhibited with other winning works at the Px3 Paris Photo Prize exhibition.

This runs from October 25 to October 31 at Espace Beaurepaire in the French capital.