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Action Alert: Indonesian Oil Palm Fires Threaten Important Orangutan Population with Death

In a global tragedy, an entire important orangutan habitat was intentionally set ablaze in past weeks with nearly 100 fires. These ongoing rainforest peat fires and land clearing by palm oil firms - in an important rainforest habitat in western Indonesia - could extirpate the entire local population, killing off some 200 orangutans. The Tripa swamp rainforest in Aceh, Indonesia – home to one of the most densely populated remaining groups of wild orangutans in the world – is ablaze as palm oil companies rush to clear forests before a court case stops their plantation expansion. Up to 100 of an already much diminished population may have been killed in recent months, and unless the land grabs and rainforest burning are immediately stopped, the local population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) may soon go locally extinct, and the whole species soon thereafter.

By, a project of EcoInternet - March 30, 2012

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Additional Background

BREAKING! May 21, 2012

Indonesia peatland back on protected list in test case: Reuters. Tripa orangutan habitat to regain protection! It's amazing what can be achieved when the major global rainforest protection efforts work together to fully protect primary rainforests, rather than their "sustainable logging" destruction. EI's global network sent 284,017 protest emails from 112 countries, and you can still do so below.

The globally exceptional Tripa peat swamp rainforests of Aceh, Indonesia have been set illegally ablaze by the oil palm industry, threatening to massacre one of the largest and most dense natural populations of orangutans. Hundreds of critically endangered orangutans could be wiped out if palm oil companies keep setting land-clearing fires in their peat swamp forests. The orangutans, part of a population of around 6,600 on Sumatra island, used to live in a lush forest and peatland region called Rawa Tripa on the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province. The whole of the Tripa peat swamps lie within the Protected Leuser Ecosystem. With an unusually dense eight individuals every square kilometer, the area has long been recognized as an UNEP/UNESCO Great Ape Survival Partnership Priority Site.

As recently as the early 1990s, the Tripa rainforest held a few thousand orangutans, but is now down to a few hundred. More than two-thirds of the area has been divided up into palm oil concessions, and only 12,267 hectares (30,311 acres) of Tripa's original 60,000 hectares (148,260 acres) of forest remains. In addition to orangutans, the Tripa peat swamp is home to tigers and bears. All of Tripa’s plant and wildlife species are threatened by the illegal activities of a small number of rogue palm oil plantation companies – including known renegade PT. Kallista Alam. Three other companies are already operating in the area. They have set nearly 100 forest fires which have been burning in Tripa since last week. The forest — though officially protected — is hemmed in by palm oil plantations, and has been badly fragmented.

A half-century ago, more than three-quarters of Indonesia was blanketed in lush tropical rain forest. But over half of these rainforests have been cleared – and many more diminished – in the rush to supply the world with pulp, paper and, more recently, palm oil — used to make everything from soap, food, to biofuel. As part of a $1 billion deal with Norway, Indonesia recently put in place a two-year moratorium on issuing new permits to clear primary forests. But that deal was violated when the government gave a license to PT. Kallista Alam last year to convert 4,000 acres of the Tripa peat swamp. Please tell President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to order palm oil companies to cease the burning of the Tripa forest immediately and save Sumatran orangutans.

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A half-buried, nearly-dead orangutan after rainforest habitat stolen and burnt
A half-buried, nearly-dead orangutan after rainforest habitat stolen and burnt  (link)

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