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1,000 Orangutans feared Dead in Kalimantan Forest Fires

Wednesday November 29, 2006

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Chairman, Willie Smits last week said that the recent forest fires in Kalimantan especially on peat land is estimated to have killed some 1,000 orangutans (pongo pygmaeus). The fires have caused these big apes to become dehydrated, suffer acute respiratory problems, lack food or are even harmed by the fires. Moreover, BOS notes that there are now 120 sick orangutans in the three conservation centers. 

According to Sar Vision Indonesia satellite monitoring, during October 200 hot spots were discovered in Block AB , which is rich in peat land biodiversity.  Fires raged across 17,815 hectares, or a total of 19.2% of Block AB , which covers a total area of 92,929 hectares. 

BOS estimates that today there are some 6,000 orangutans left in their habitat at Sebangau, 5,000 at Tanjung Puting and 3,000 in Tuanan, Kalimantan .  

Meanwhile, in a follow up to the agreement between the Governments of Thailand and Indonesia, 48 orangutans were returned from to their habitat at Kuala Menteng reserve in Central Kalimantan on 22 November. 

se great apes are among 104 smuggled to and confiscated by Thai Police at the Safari World in Bangkok , where a number were trained Thai boxing for performances. 90% of these orangutans now exist in Sumatra and Kalimantan with the remainder in Malaysian Sabah and Sarawak . Its total population is estimated at 62,000 only, and its number continues to decline caused by forest fires, wide-scale logging or are caught into captivity.