By Crystal Chung @crystalkchung
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Head of the Kutai National Park Office, Erly Sukrismanto confirmed on Sunday the death of the three orangutans near the fertiliser company, PT Pupuk Kaltim.
Hardi Baktiantoro the founder of the Centre for Orangutan Protection claims that the fire was deliberately started to clear the land for farming.
Hardi said: “It is completely illegal to clear forest land by burning it, and in this case the land that was burnt still had three orangutans living there.”
After investigating the death of the orangutans, a team of officers from the Kutai National Park and the Bontang city police buried the three orangutans.
Erly said: ”The bodies of the orangutans were decayed so we buried them soon after the investigation to prevent them from spreading disease.”
Professional photojournalist Yuli Seperi discovered the unfortunate deaths through a friend on Facebook.
He said: “I saw a friend post a status on Facebook about the deaths so I went the location where the three orangutans were.
“The deaths made me extremely upset as orangutans are a huge icon to Indonesia.”
The forest fires are claimed to have started around 14.30 Saturday 20th February.
The founder of the Centre for Orangutan Protection said: “It is not clear why the three orangutans could not escape the fire as they usually can. Perhaps they were afraid of the humans that surrounded the fragmented forest.
“The three dead are believed to be a family of all females, two twenty year olds and one baby orangutan around the age of one.”