A Hairy Situation

The Indonesian forest fires are threatening the health and habitat of endangered orangutans.

October 29, 2015

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. Weve 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.

onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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