Monday, 16 September 2019

Heart-breaking photos show endangered orangutans made homeless as farmers jeopardise their habitat by starting illegal forest fires to clear land for agriculture

The Indonesian government has sealed of 30 plantations amid concerns they have been contributing to the already burning landscape to expand arable land.
The plantation companies, including a Singapore-based company and four firms affiliated with Malaysian corporate groups, are under scrutiny and waiting for decisions on possible punishment.
The rampant burning, whilst useful for farmers, destroys the habitats of jungle residents forcing them down onto the ground where they are more open to predators. 
Homeless: An adult and juvenile orangutan perch on a burnt branch staring across a graveyard of fallen trees, some reduced to little more than ash
Homeless: An adult and juvenile orangutan perch on a burnt branch staring across a graveyard of fallen trees, some reduced to little more than ash
Another child clutches at one of the remaining trees, reluctant to let go. It watches on as the expansive jungle around it continues to burn into the night
Another child clutches at one of the remaining trees, reluctant to let go. It watches on as the expansive jungle around it continues to burn into the night
The burns which have displaced so many members of the critically endangered species are thought to have been started by plantation farmers in a bid to clear more land for farming
The burns which have displaced so many members of the critically endangered species are thought to have been started by plantation farmers in a bid to clear more land for farming
One of those residents are critically endangered Sumatran orangutans who consider the jungle flora to be their home. 
The population of the great ape is now thought to be as low as around 7,500 with deforestation contributing significantly to the decline of the species.
The current situation presents a greater worry for Indonesia though as Sumatran orangutans act as caretakers for the jungle, helping to spread seeds across the jungle they inhabit.

Efforts to extinguish the ongoing burning are being made but have been hindered by the vast swathes of peat and swampland that can continue to burn underground
Efforts to extinguish the ongoing burning are being made but have been hindered by the vast swathes of peat and swampland that can continue to burn underground


The night sky has been blotted out as the sheer amount of smoke removes visibility reflecting back an eerie orange mist from the flames below
The night sky has been blotted out as the sheer amount of smoke removes visibility reflecting back an eerie orange mist from the flames below
The extent of the burns is hard to comprehend but quickly comes into better focus when seen from above, as smoke billows from every break in the tree canopy
The extent of the burns is hard to comprehend but quickly comes into better focus when seen from above, as smoke billows from every break in the tree canopy
Forest fires are a regular issue for the country, the smoke regularly posing a health risk to its citizens. 
It is not untypical for fires to be started by plantation owners to clear away swathes of land to be used for farming.
Indonesia's forestry and environment minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, told reporters Friday that the government will prosecute a number of companies as a deterrent to setting fires.
The move came days after she disputed that the smoke was coming from Indonesia, noting that hotspots were also detected in Malaysia
Hot spots from the burns have been spotted via satellite in both Indonesia and Malaysia, the only places the Sumatran orangutan is known to inhabit
Hot spots from the burns have been spotted via satellite in both Indonesia and Malaysia, the only places the Sumatran orangutan is known to inhabit
A group of orangutans sift through the sand and ash, pawing at the the scorched wood. The foundation for their treetop homes now reduced to kindling
A group of orangutans sift through the sand and ash, pawing at the the scorched wood. The foundation for their treetop homes now reduced to kindling 
But the acknowledgement of potential Malaysian involvement has sparked a row between the neighbouring states.
Malaysia's environment minister, Yeo Bee Yin, responded immediately, telling Indonesia 'not to be in denial,' citing data that showed that the haze impacting parts of Malaysia originated in Indonesia. 
Unfortunately, many areas of Indonesia are prone to rapid burning because of the draining of swampy peatland forests for pulp wood and palm oil plantations hindering efforts to extinguish the flames. 

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