Dramatic picture shows the tragedy of orangutans due to forest fires burning Southeast Asia

La deforestazione, le piantagioni di palma da olio e il conflitto tra uomo e oranghi. Una delle peggiori crisi ambientali del pianeta racchiusa in un’immagine.

An exhausted, frightened female orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) with her baby clung tightly to her chest, seeing its world being burnt.


The two orangutans have been rescued by International Animal Rescue’s volunteers (IAR) © International Animal Rescue


The picture has been taken in Borneo by volunteers of the International Animal Rescue (IAR) whilst rescuing the two animals. These two orangutans, like many other individuals, had to flee the forest, which is their habitat providing them with livelihood and shelter, due to fires devastating Southeast Asia.


Borneo, Indonesia, part of Malaysia and Singapore are undergoing an unprecedented crisis due to arsons ignited by farmers to obtain cultivable lands, in particular to make space to oil palm plantations.


The consequences of fires are devastating for both citizens (10 people already died for having breathed the contaminated air) and animals, mostly orang-utans, rare anthropomorphic monkeys threatened with extinction.


Orangutans walk as haze shrouds Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation camp in Nyaru Menteng, Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province, October 5, 2015 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has called on Indonesia to take action against people setting fires that have caused choking smoke to drift across the region, with the sky over southern Thailand the latest to be clouded by the pollution. REUTERS/Rosa Panggabean/Antara Foto ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. MANDATORY CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN INDONESIA.      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fires in Southeast Asia are forcing orangutans out of their habitat © Reuters


The two animals in the picture are not only victims of fires, but also of human cruelty. The pair, forced to flee flames, have sought shelter in a small village, where villagers attacked them by throwing things and then tried to capture them.


Locals often consider these monkeys as parasites, since they feed on crops surrounding their villages. This represents the main cause of conflict between humans and orangutans.


Indonesia in fiamme
The Sumatran forest burning © Getty Images


Fortunately, the volunteers of the International Animal Rescue took action, anaesthetising the two monkeys and bringing them to a protected area of the rainforest, where they are properly monitored.


“They were forced out of their forest home as a result of the fires and ended up in a village,” reads a press release of the environmental association. “Fortunately, IAR’s team got to her just in time”.


due oranghi
Mother orangutan with her baby


Over the past weeks, at least 12 orangutans were rescued due to forest fires buning out of control. “This is a global environmental crisis and it is already considered by experts as the worst man-made ecological disaster of the century,” says Karmele Llano Sanchez, Programme Director for IAR Indonesia.  “I fear that in terms of the orangutans, the worst is yet to come. And if serious action isn’t taken soon to stop the fires, it will simply be too late.”

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