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Fires threaten to 'extinguish' critical Indonesian orangutan population

Conservationists claim a massive new wave of fires has been set in Tripa peat swamp to make way for palm oil plantations

Source:  Copyright 2012, Guardian
Date:  June 29, 2012
Byline:  Oliver Milman
Original URL: Status ONLINE
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The world's densest population of orangutans is set to be "extinguished" by a massive new wave of fires that is clearing large tracts of a peat swamp forest in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, conservationists have warned.

Environmentalists claim that satellite images show a huge surge in forest blazes across the Tripa peat swamp in order to create palm oil plantations, including areas that have not been permitted for clearing.

Tripa is home to a tight-knit enclave of around 200 critically endangered orangutans. However, this number has plummeted from an estimated population of 3,000.

Just 7,000 orangutans remain in Sumatra, with rampant forest clearing for palm oil cultivation blamed for their decline.

Ian Singleton, head of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), said that the Tripa orangutans are being "extinguished."

"The situation is indeed extremely dire," he said. "Every time I have visited Tripa ...

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