Orangutans rescued from Indonesian forest fires released back into wild

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three orangutans rescued when forest fires destroyed their Indonesian rainforest habitats were returned to the wild on Borneo island last week.

Karmele Llano Sanche, International Animal Rescue program director in Indonesia, made a three-day journey by car, boat and through the forest to release the animals in Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park.

“You know, it’s amazing to see a big orangutan like that moving across the forest, this is home, home, back home,” Sanche said.

Sabtu, 25, was saved in March 2015 from a village near the IAR sanctuary in Ketapang, West Kalimantan province, one of the areas most affected by the fires last year.

Butan and Marsela, both around seven and eight years old, were also rescued by IAR when their home was destroyed by fires.

Deforestation and land clearing for pulp paper and palm oil plantations has depleted the habitat of Bornean and Sumatran orangutans. Fires are often set by companies to clear the land.

Orangutans, which means “person of the forest” in Malay, are endangered animals. There are only about 60,000 left in the wild, down from around 230,000 a century ago.

Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Karishma Singh