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Old Japanese fire hoses to be sent to Borneo for use as bridges for orangutans

Used fire hoses, which will be sent to Borneo Island for use as suspension bridges over rivers for wild orangutans, are seen in the suburban Tokyo city of Machida on Dec. 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Minako Saito)

MACHIDA, Tokyo -- A Japanese nonprofit group will send 147 used fire hoses to an oil palm plantation on Borneo Island to serve as suspension bridges for wild orangutans to cross rivers as deforestation in the area is forcing the animals to travel through palm plantations in search of food.

Tropical rain forests in Sabah -- a Malaysian state north of Borneo -- have been felled to develop oil palm plantations and consequently orangutan habitats have been decreasing. Deforestation on the island is believed to have contributed not only to global warming but also destroying orangutans' living environment.

The Tokyo-based nonprofit Borneo Conservation Trust Japan has been building suspension bridges made of used fire hoses over rivers at orangutan sanctuaries on the island since 2008, and will send old hoses used by a local volunteer fire brigade in the suburban Tokyo city of Machida to a 90-square-meter plantation this month.

In Japan, an average person annually consumes between 4 to 5 kilograms of palm oil. Nobuo Nakanishi, 59, a member of the project, said, "We hope people will learn that biodiversity in tropical rain forests in Borneo is linked to consumption habits in Japan."

(Japanese original by Minako Saito, Tama General Bureau)

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