Orangutans in the haze shrouding the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation camp on Oct. 5. (Photo: Antara Foto/Reuters)
John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more for Scientific American, Conservation, Lion, and other publications.
Orangutans Are Dying as Indonesia Burns
Thousands of forest fires set by palm oil companies across Sumatra and Borneo threaten not just endangered apes but the global climate.
Indonesia is on fire.
Right now, tens of thousands of small forest fires are burning across the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, the only habitats for orangutans and other rare species.
Many of the fires appear to have been intentionally set by palm oil companies, which employ slash-and-burn agriculture to clear land of native trees to plant their cash crop, which is used as an ingredient in everything from food to cosmetics.
Richard Zimmerman, executive director of Orangutan Outreach, calls…
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