One species of orangutan may be on the brink of extinction

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Can We Save Orangutans From Extinction?

The orangutan might be headed for extinction — despite major conservation efforts.

A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Bornean orangutan is now critically endangered.

The only other orangutan species, the Sumatran orangutan, is already listed as critically endangered, meaning both species are now at "extremely high risk of extinction in the wild."

The IUCN report found that Bornean orangutan populations slid by nearly two-thirds since the 1970s thanks to habitat destruction and illegal hunting. By 2025, that population is expected to be just 47,000.

One of the report's authors told Mongabay, "This is full acknowledgment of what has been clear for a long time: orangutan conservation is failing."

RELATED: Animals that have gone extinct in the last 100 years

Animals that went extinct in last 100 years
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Animals that went extinct in last 100 years

Baiji dolphin

Year declared extinct: 2007

Photo: Getty

Heath Hen

Year declared extinct: 1932

 Photo: AP

Thylacine, also known as 'Tasmanian wolf' or 'Tasmanian tiger'

Year declared extinct: 1986

Photo: Getty

Pinta tortoise

Year declared extinct: 2012

Photo: Getty

Golden toad

Year declared extinct: 1989

Photo: Getty

Caribbean monk seal

Year declared extinct: 2008

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Caspian tiger

Year declared extinct: 1958 or 1970

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Formosan clouded leopard

Year declared extinct: 2013

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Pyrenean ibex 

Year declared extinct: 2000

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Toolache wallaby

Year declared extinct: 1937 or 1970's

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)


Because of human encroachment, only about 60 percent of Borneo's forest was habitable for orangutans in 2010, and illegal burning and logging continue to pose threats.

But the new label of critically endangered doesn't necessarily mean extinction is a given. It's possible new conservation efforts could help save the orangutans, although one of the report's authors says the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

This video includes clips from New Everyday / CC BY 3.0, the BBC, RxIran Cast / CC BY 3.0, The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Lian Pin Koh / CC BY 3.0 and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

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