Heartbreaking Photos Show Orangutans Driven From Their Homes Due To Forest Fires
Shocking photographs have been released showing endangered orangutans being forced to flee their homes as fires destroy their habitats.
A group of the creatures were spotted huddled near water on Salat Island, Borneo, after being pushed out of their homes because of illegal land clearing.
According to reports, satellite images show that the number of similar blazes across Borneo and Sumatra are on the rise, with the fires causing a toxic haze to spread as far as Singapore and peninsular Malaysia.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said the hazardous fog being caused by the fires had affected hundreds of the great apes it was looking after at its rescue centres and re-introduction shelters.
Citing an incident at one of its centres in Kalimantan, the foundation said: "The thick smoke does not only endanger the health of our staff... but also it affects the 355 orangutans we currently care for.
"As many as 37 young orangutans are suspected to have contracted a mild respiratory infection."
According to Channel News Asia, conditions deteriorated so quickly at the Samboja Lestari facility in East Kalimantan that animals were only allowed outside for a few hours a day.
But it's not just animals that are being affected by the fires. On Borneo island, pollution levels have been labelled 'hazardous', according to the environment ministry, and led to hundreds of schools being shut across Indonesia and Malaysia.
Orangutans have been particularly vulnerable to commercial land clearances in recent years, witnessing their natural habitats shrink before their eyes.
Figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature state that the population of orangutans has fallen from 288,500 in 1973 to about 100,000 today.
Speaking to the Mirror, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia Annisa Rahmawati, said it was vital for the protection of the planet and its wildlife that deforestation was brought to an end.
She said: "Forests from Brazil to the Boreal to Borneo are burning. We are facing a climate emergency and, aided and abetted by governments in Brazil, Indonesia, Europe, China and the USA among others, commodities like palm oil, soya and meat are driving forest destruction across the world.
"To stop climate breakdown, companies must take immediate and transformative action to drop suppliers linked to deforestation, and governments must address these crises with the urgency they deserve."
Featured Image Credit: Getty