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Discovery of two orphaned baby orangutans 'further evidence of deforestation threat'

The discovery last week of two orphaned baby orangutans on Borneo is further evidence that deforestation and illegal hunting are threatening the existence of the great apes, an Indonesian conservation group has claimed. The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has reported the discovery of 19 babies so far this year. In the latest cases of a male, six to eight months old, and a three-year-old female weighing only 11 pounds, it is suspected that their mothers were deliberately killed. Conservation groups have cited it as another indication that the species’ extinction is being hastened by habitat destruction through hunting, fires and deforestation for oil palm and pulp plantations. As more forests are cleared, “hunters are able to reach previously isolated areas and orangutans,” the foundation said in a statement reported by the Associated Press. “We have to take a stand to protect remaining habitat and the critically endangered wildlife which lives within. Our forests and our orangutan population are shrinking.” A recently rescued baby orangutan plays with a keeper at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia Credit: Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation  The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared the reddish-brown great apes, found only in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on Borneo, which is split between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, as a critically endangered species. Conservationists were cheered in September, however, by the first baby orangutan to be born at the Pinus Jantho Nature Reserve in Sumatra, a release site for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP). The non-profit group rehabilitates apes that have been kept as pets or come into conflict with humans, reported Mongabay news. The reserve now holds a new population of the endangered primates. “We really weren’t expecting to see this little guy when we went to Jantho the other day, it was a real surprise, and a real treat!" Sapto Aji Prabowo, head of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in Aceh Province said.

8.7-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra

An 8.7-magnitude earthquake strikes Indonesia 434 km southwest of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.