DISTURBING images show endangered orangutans sitting amongst the charred remains of their jungle homes after illegal fires in Indonesia.
The great apes have been devastated by infernos started by greedy farmers who want to clear away forests so they can grow crops.
Forest fires in Indonesia are destroying the homes of Sumatran orangutans[/caption]
The blazes have been reportedly started illegally by farmers in an attempt clear more land for crops[/caption]
Deforestation has contributed significantly to the decline of Sumatran orangutans which are critically endangered.
It is thought that as little as 7,500 of the gentle creatures, who call the jungle their home, remain on the planet.
The Indonesian government has sealed off 30 plantations amid allegations that their owners have been intentionally burning the forest in a bid to expand their farm land.
Authorities have arrested 185 people suspected of starting the blazes that are spreading a thick, noxious haze around Southeast Asia, police said today.
Nearly every year, Indonesian forest fires spread health-damaging haze across the country and into neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said cops formally handed over probes of 23 of those who were arrested to prosecutors last week, while 45 others will be tried later this month.
Police are still investigating the rest.
Mr Prasetyo said the suspects were arrested in six provinces that have declared a state of emergency over forest fires.
The provinces have a combined population of more than 23 million.
There is believed to be as little as 7,500 of the apes left in the world[/caption]
The Sumatran orangutans call the jungle their home – but are now being threatened by the fires[/caption]
Indonesian police have arrested nearly 200 people in response to the devastating illegal fires[/caption]
He said the suspects could be prosecuted under an environmental protection law that allows a maximum 10-year prison sentence for setting fires to clear land.
Poor visibility caused by smoke has caused delays of flights in several airports in Indonesia and Malaysia and prompted authorities to shut schools in some parts of the two countries.
Indonesia’s forestry and environment ministry said recently that authorities had sealed off at least 42 companies in the past week, including a Singaporean-based company and four firms affiliated with a Malaysian palm oil corporate group.
The Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency detected 2,153 hotspots across the country on Monday.
It said 99 percent of these burning areas were caused by deliberately set fires.
The agency said 44 helicopters had dropped more than 263 million litres of water and 164 tons of salt for cloud seeding as part of the firefighting efforts.
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Indonesian authorities have deployed more than 9,000 people to fight the fires, which have razed more than 812,000 acres of land across the nation.
Indonesia’s annual dry season fires were particularly disastrous in 2015, burning 10,000 sq-miles of land and spreading health-damaging haze across Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and Malaysia.
The World Bank estimated the fires cost Indonesia $16 billion, and a Harvard and Columbia study estimated the haze hastened 100,000 deaths in the region.
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