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Last Updated: Friday May 09 2008 06:31 GMT

Orangutans in danger of dying out

Mother orangutan and baby

Conservationists are worried that the world's largest population of wild orangutans in Borneo in south-east Asia will die out within three years.

That's because the trees that they live in are being cut down in order to grow palm oil, used for soaps and cooking.

It's thought there's just 20,000 of the mammals left in the tropical jungle spot, down from about 31,300 in 2004.

Campaigners say it's vital that Borneo's government step in to safeguard the animals' future.

Orangutans
A baby orangutan
The name orangutan means person of the forest
They are the largest tree-living mammals
They eat insects, leaves, bark, flowers and fruit.
Conservationist Hardi Baktiantoro said: "The cutting down of forests means the loss of habitat and source of food for orangutans.

"Orangutans will become homeless and starve."

He said the animals would then end up eating the palm oil seeds, and farmers would then hunt them as pests that were destroying their crops.