IFAW: Wildfires Threaten Last Orangutans

November 9th, 2006 5:28 pm by Kelly Garbato

NOTE: For more information on the current situation in Borneo, see also:

* Animal Rescue: Indonesian Forest Fires Threaten Wildlife (IFAW)

* Orangutans flee Indonesia forest fires

* Orangutans Dying and Injured in Indonesian Wildfires

* Indonesia Forest Fires, Attacks Kill 1,000 Orangutans

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: ER Team, IFAW – fred [at] ifaw1.org
Date: Nov 9, 2006 2:39 PM
Subject: Wildfires Threaten Last Orangutans

Wildfires threaten last orangutans

I am writing to you from the dense forests along the Kapuas River in Central Kalimantan, where dozens of endangered orangutans have been driven from their dwindling jungle habitat in Borneo by months of land-clearing fires that have covered the region in a choking haze.

For the entire drive from Palangkaraya it felt as if we could have been on the moon; barren, dry and grey. Other than the city centers themselves there is no sight without burning or burnt jungle forest.

I’m here to work with the Bornean Orangutan Survival Foundation-Indonesia (BOS) to rescue 43 orangutans which have been taken for medical treatment to centers in the Indonesian provinces of Central and West Kalimantan.

Most were beaten by humans after fleeing from the burning jungle to nearby plantations, but several are being treated for respiratory problems and burns. Many of these orangutans had already been rescued and rehabilitated and sent back into the wild by BOS just months ago, only to have to be saved again from the burning palm oil plantations which spread into their forest.

You can keep up to date on the latest rescue efforts by reading my daily blog.

Fewer than 60,000 orangutans remain in the wild in Indonesia — nearly 90 percent of their habitat destroyed by illegal logging, poaching and cut-and-burn farming practices. If the rate of deforestation continues, experts predict that orangutans will disappear from the wild in around a decade.

To actually be here, to see the forests burning, the birds flying above looking for a safe place to land, villagers walking around with masks over their mouths 24/7 combined with the number of orangutans in rehab is heart wrenching.

But I am truly inspired by the incredible work being done on the ground here by such dedicated rescue workers who have to endure raging fires and unspeakable acts of cruelty to animals to give these endangered orangutans another chance at life.

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I hope you will come along with me as I continue to share my stories of this developing story with you over the coming weeks. As difficult as the situation is for these animals, it would be virtually hopeless for them if we weren’t here to help. Thank you for your continuing support!


Jennifer Miller

P.S. To see pictures from the orangutan rescue, view my photo slideshow here.

IFAW © 2006

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