It is almost impossible to estimate the destruction or displacement of species caused by natural and un-natural fires in forest habitat. While media reports of major forest fires concern the size of area affected, it is more difficult to account for the number and range of species destroyed or driven out, or to examine the knock on effect as species try to adjust to new habitat.
In 1998, terrified orangutans on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra fled their jungle homes as never before, driven by vast forest fires and choking smoke that has swept across their natural habitat. The orangutans, along with other jungle animals like tigers, elephants, sun bears and flying foxes were driven onto managed plantations and into villages where they are killed or illegally captured and sold. The forest fires with their extreme heat and dense choking smoke have produced a thick haze over the islands affecting the growth of jungle fruits which threatens starvation for the animals even after the fires have passed. The disaster of the fires only worsened the situation of the orangutans, who have already lost close to 90% of their natural habitat on the islands in the last half century.