Firefighters save wildlife from fires in S. Sumatra

Firefighters save wildlife from fires in S. Sumatra

19 September 2011

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Indonesia — Dozens of elephants and various other wildlife species are reported to have been spared from forest fires, which have been decreasing since the launch of cloud-seeding.

“The wildlife habitat in the animal conservation area is still safe as of now, as firefighters were able to put out the fire that suddenly appeared and spread to the wildlife area,” South Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) head Dwi Setyono said on Friday.

The firefighters were reported to have managed to extinguish the fires from spreading in a number of spots, including the Padang Sugihan wildlife conservation area in Riding 3 village, Pangkalan Lampam, Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI).

Dwi said it was no easy task to reach the fire locations, deep inside the forest.

Efforts by the Manggala Agni fire-fighting team to reach the area by fire truck had failed so they decided to connect hundreds of meters of water hoses and use pumps to put out the fire.

“We are not only putting out the fire but also preventing the conservation forest from burning,” said Dwi.

“We have yet to receive reports on damaged habitat,” he said.

The Air Sugihan Sebokor conservation forest was also reported to have been spared from fire as unlike the Padang Sugihan forest in OKI it is not located near production forest.

However, the fire-fighting team remains alert and is conducting patrols as an anticipatory measure.

South Sumatra’s conservation forests, spanning a total of 256,000 hectares, consist of tourism forest and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Air Sugihan Sebokor conservation area preserves animals deemed at risk of extinction.

It is home to various animals, including elephants, deer, wild boars, crocodiles, bears and snakes.

South Sumatra’s Forestry Office’s Forest and Peatland Fire Control division head Ahmad Taufik said that based on satellite images, no hot-spots were detected in South Sumatra as of Thursday night, compared to a day earlier with 36 hot-spots.

According to Taufik, the number of hot-spots has further dropped since cloud-seeding was conducted on Sept. 12.

In Jambi, the long dry season has affected 400 hectares of farmland, mostly consisting of paddy fields.

Jambi City Agriculture, Livestock, Fishery and Forestry Office head Harlik said many farmers would suffer harvest failures.

The paddy fields are located in four districts in Jambi city — Danau Teluk, Pelayangan, Telanaipura and East Jambi.

Harlik said his office could not do anything much to overcome the problem, adding his office had provided seedlings to farmers before the dry season. He said his office would provide pumps to irrigate the fields if residents found water sources.

“We cannot do much if no water source is found and we can only hope for rain to fall,” he said.

He acknowledged that the current drought was cause for grave concern, and feared that many farmers would suffer harvest failures and huge losses if rain failed to arrive in the next two or three days.

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