End Wildfire Destruction of Orangutan Habitats

Sumatrian orangutan female and cub

Target: President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo

Goal: End deforestation by palm oil companies and save orangutan habitats.

Indonesia is currently experiencing massive wildfires that are causing one of the biggest environmental disasters since the wildfires of 1997. Primal rainforests are burning at the rate of more than 21,000 square meters per hour, rapidly destroying nearly one-third of Indonesia’s orangutans’ habitats.

Orangutans are being seriously affected by the dense smoke, lack of food, and fires burning out of control. They are facing malnourishment, respiratory ailments, and death. As their habitats dwindle, they are being forced closer to human settlements where they face the further dangers of being caged or killed.

The main cause of the wildfires are the government’s slash and burn tactics, supported by the palm oil industry. Previously, the fires were confined to farmlands and plantations. The wildfires have now penetrated deep into the rainforests and national parks, threatening more than one-third of wild orangutans and other endangered species.

The peatland forests are naturally flooded and fire resistant. Years of forest clearance and canal construction have drained the peat, putting the forest at high wildfire risk. Dry peat burns easily and can burn for extended periods of time, even traveling underground and re-emerging in another area. These fires produce toxic gases that induce respiratory ailments in both humans and animals. The wildfires are believed to have caused more than 500,000 cases of respiratory infections in humans. The effects on orangutans are incalculable, but orangutans share 97 percent of their DNA with humans so they are invariably suffering at a proportionate rate.

Indonesia is the fifth-highest greenhouse gas emitter and has the world’s highest rate of deforestation. Palm oil plantations make up about 61 percent of the country’s emissions. Recently, Indonesia sent out more greenhouse gases than the United States–the world’s second-highest polluter. Palm oil is the most used vegetable oil in the world. Global production has doubled in the past decade and is primed to double again by 2020.

Fire commonly orphans orangutans. There are sanctuaries which help relocate orangutans or provide care if they are not well enough to be relocated, but it is not enough. The island of Borneo now has only approximately 40,000 orangutans, with over 80 percent of their habitat destroyed by fire in the past 20 years. The 1997 fires killed nearly one-third of orangutans; The current fires could cause even more damage. Orangutan populations are also reduced by poachers who kill orangutan mothers and sell the infants across Asia as pets.

Orangutan populations are dwindling due to wildfire deforestation and illegal poaching. Indonesia must enforce its forest moratorium policy and punish anyone caught setting fires to extend farmland. Promoting efficient farming practices will more greatly benefit Indonesia’s agricultural industries, its orangutan populations, and the health of all its inhabitants.

By signing the petition below, you will be urging Indonesian President Joko Widodo to enforce his state goal of not expanding farmlands at the expense of the primal forests. Indonesia needs to protect its orangutan populations or watch them face extinction.


Dear President Widodo,

The wildfires that are burning in Indonesia threaten the health and lives of your citizens as well as your country’s dwindling orangutan population. More effort needs to be expended to contain and control these fires. The toxic gases emitted are causing massive respiratory ailments in both your human and orangutan inhabitants. Add to that the rapidly decreasing orangutan habitat, and Indonesia may see its beloved orangutans facing extinction.

We ask that you diligently enforce your forest moratorium policy. It is not necessary to increase the amount of farmland by deforestation. Farming production can be increased via more efficient farming.

Please help the orangutans of Indonesia. Their suffering is pointless and preventable. They deserve to live free from harm in the rainforests of Indonesia.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Olga Khoroshunova

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  1. Once again the greed of mankind threatens to destroy what is left of plant and wildlife in another area of our world. Don’t know why people cannot see what a disaster this is for the animals and people of this planet. Unfortunately once it is gone it can never be restored.

  2. must end the use of palm oil now. it is responsible for this now.

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