The Fires are Blazing Again in Borneo
September 22, 2009 by drbirute
Hot spots in and around the vicinity of Tanjung Puting Park as of the end of August 2009
The fires are blazing again in Kalimantan! I sit weary and exhausted in front of my computer but not nearly as weary as the OFI (Orangutan Foundation International) assistants who have been fighting these fires for several weeks now since the end of August. We were warned that 2009 would be an El Nino year for months but the persistent rains which fell in July belied the situation. It wasn’t until mid-August that the sun took on that deadly red glow as it hung in the grey sky, the glow that tells us this will be no normal dry season. When the sky takes on the colors of a Japanese print we know. We know that it is going to be a long severe season of drought.
The Park is ablaze but not where the tourists go. They may smell the smoke and see the haze in the sky but Camp Leakey and the forests around it remain untouched because we are there and have been for 38 years. It is where the farmers work and where the enclaved villages are located within the Park that the fires burn out of control. It is also on the Park boundaries next to the palm oil plantations that the worst fires burn.
In 2006 during the last El Nino year OFI and its partners battled fires that ultimately destroyed about 15% of Tanjung Puting National Park. We are now trying to prevent the same. We are fighting the fires shoulder to shoulder with our partners in the Forestry Department and we need all the support that we can get.