Fire at night in the Cerrado.
© CI/Photo by Haroldo Castro
Bush fires can occur naturally or as result of a human activity, such as slash-and-burn clearing practices. In either case, fires can be detrimental to primates by posing a direct threat to individuals, destroying vast areas of habitat, and potentially leaving orphaned babies and adolescent primates uncared for if the fire kills adult primates.
For example, in 1997 and 1998, bush fires in Indonesia destroyed approximately 10 million hectares of forest and did tremendous damage to orangutan populations and their habitat. As habitat loss is one of the greatest existing risks to orangutans – whose populations have fallen by at least 50 percent – another series of wildfires could push the species even closer to extinction.
READ MORE: Learn about more threats to primate species.