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Video Shows Orangutans That Fled Fires and Stone-Throwing Villagers Being Released Back Into the Wild

Massive wildfires in Kalimantan and Sumatra are destroying orangutan habitats and have spewed more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Photo via International Animal Rescue

An orangutan and her baby, which captured international attention after their arduous flight from Indonesia's epidemic of forest fires, were released back into the wild this week after receiving care from a conservation group.

International Animal Rescue (IAR) saved the malnourished primates in early November after angry villagers attacked them with stones and attempted to tie them up, according to the BBC. The orangutans had fled fires in Kalimantan, Indonesia's portion of Borneo.


Karmele Llano Sanchez, program director for IAR Indonesia, called the fires a "global environmental crisis."

"I fear that in terms of the orangutans, the worst is yet to come," she said in late October. "And if serious action isn't taken soon to stop the fires, it will simply be too late."

A video released by the group shows the mother quickly scaling a tree once freed from a cage.

(Video via IAR)

More than 100,000 forest fires have raged across Indonesia's portion of Borneo and the island of Sumatra. For the most part, the fires have been intentionally set to make way for plantations producing palm oil, pulp and paper, and timber. The haze created by the conflagrations has sickened half a million people, according to Indonesia's disaster agency. They've also forced schools and airports to close, and brought about an acute diplomatic crisis for President Joko Widodo.

And, since the fires are raging atop carbon-rich peat soil, massive amounts of heat-trapping emissions are being released into the atmosphere. The World Resources Institute estimates that 1.62 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide has been emitted in the past two months, pushing Indonesia from the sixth-largest emitter in the world up to the fourth-largest. At times the amount of greenhouse gas released by the fires has been greater than that generated by the entire US economy.

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