Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Borneo on Fire...

Below is a piece from BBC News online. We have worked in the field alongside these rescue teams and know how bad things are. The fires in Borneo will only get worse as more peat is cleared for oil palm plantations, meanwhile the orangutans will continue to suffer. These fires are strong evidence that Kyoto should really call an emergency meeting to bring in new measures to protect existing forest. Can we really wait till 2012?

Orangutans perish in Borneo fires
By Lucy Williamson, BBC News, Jakarta

Fires on the island of Borneo may have killed up to 1,000 orangutans, say animal protection workers in Indonesia.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation says the animals are facing severe problems as their natural habitat is burnt away.

Rescue workers have found several dead orangutans in burnt-out areas, but have no way of reaching animals still trapped in the burning forests.

The fires have been raging across central Borneo for months.


One of those involved in the rescue effort, Pak Hardy, told the BBC that more than 40 animals had been saved after finding their way to the edges of the fires. Many have severe burns.

Others have been killed by local people after eating from the area's profitable oil palm plantations.

One of the problems, says Pak Hardy, is that erosion of the animals' natural habitat means there are few places for them to go to avoid the fires.

The teams have put up posters asking local people not to kill orangutans which are fleeing the fires and to contact them instead, but it is not working.

Four times in the last 24 hours Pak Hardy's team has been too late.

Threats to orangutans' natural habitat are largely responsible for them becoming an endangered species.

Indonesia's annual problem with forest fires is widely blamed on farmers and logging companies clearing land for oil palm plantations.
The fires routinely cause a smoky haze to settle over a wide area and have brought criticism from Indonesia's neighbours as well as from environmental groups.