Officials announced yesterday that pollution from Indonesia's devastating forest fires has now killed 19 people. The blazes are an annual result of slash-and burn-agriculture, but the flames torching the nation’s forests and peatlands this year may be the worst in history. As the crisis continues to sicken people, wildlife are feeling the effects, too. The nightmare is spreading into vital habitat for thousands of endangered orangutans.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has been sending rescue teams to search through heavy smoke for animals orphaned or trapped by the fires. These photos show the rescued primates recuperating at the Nyaru Menteng orangutan rehabilitation center in Central Kalimantan, where workers say recovery has been hindered by the thick haze.
Agence France-Presse reports that the center is considering a mass evacuation of the apes. “We’ve never been forced to evacuate orangutans or draw up an emergency contingency plan,” program manager Denny Kurniawan told AFP. “But these fires are beyond crazy.”
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