Plight of the orangutan

Forest fires and villagers endanger orangutans as they are forced out of their natural habitats in Borneo and Sumatra.

| Environment, Asia, Indonesia

Burned alive, captured, tortured and orphaned - this is the plight of orangutans struggling to survive in Indonesia's diminishing rainforests.

When an endangered Borneo orangutan and her baby recently escaped from raging wildfires, they were attacked by villagers, who hurled rocks at them and tried to tie them up, an animal rights group has said.

The malnourished mother and child were found in a distressed state, clinging to one another, when saved by International Animal Rescue.

Primates are being forced to flee their forest home as illegal agricultural fires, ignited to clear the land, engulf their habitat and cloak the region in a thick haze. Locals, however, view them as pests.

"It was very fortunate our rescue team got there in time, otherwise the orangutans would have been killed," said Karmele Llano Sanchez, the rescue service's programme director.

"The mother was quite skinny because she had not been eating for at least a month since the fires started."

The British-based group has carried out more than a dozen rescue operations in the past two months to save orangutans who have strayed out of their natural habitat.

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