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Illegal orangutan trade: three arrested

24/06/2010 10:10:23

RESCUED: A member of the Indonesian Department of Forestry carries out the rescued young orangutan Picture: WCS

Cracking down on the smugglers

June 2010: Three people have been arrested and charged with attempting to sell a baby orangutan after a raid by Indonesian authorities. This is one of the first cases in many years against suspected illegal orangutan dealers in Indonesia, and possibly the first case ever in Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo. It represents a continuing rise in action against the illegal trade in wildlife in Indonesia. In the last two years there have been more than 20 arrests for illegally possessing or trading protected wildlife, including endangered Sumatra tigers, and pangolins.

The raid in Pontianak took place on June 21 and recovered a live baby orangutan that was about six months old. Young orangutans are favoured by dealers, and their mothers are often killed in the process of capturing them. The baby orangutan confiscated during this raid is now being cared for at the International Animal Rescue facility in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

The raid was conducted by the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with the Anti-Wildlife Crime Forum, made up of WCS's Wildlife Crime Unit and local partners. The Wildlife Crime Unit, created by WCS in 2003, provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.

In another recent event, a baby orangutan was
found in a forest clearance camp
. Sadly the baby
died shortly afterwards. The babies mother died
after being savagely beaten. Credit IAR.

'I hope this will send a warning to others involved'

Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation for the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Mr Ir Darori M.M, expressed appreciation to the officers that took part in the raid: ‘This is an important case and an impressive result. I hope this will send a warning to others involved in the illegal trade in protected wildlife in Indonesia that it will not be tolerated,' said Mr Darori. ‘I urge state prosecutors to focus now on the prosecution of this case.'

The Wildlife Conservation Society is actively trying to reduce the damaging impact of illegal wildlife trade.
‘The illegal wildlife trade is a massive threat in Indonesia, but one that can be addressed with a strong government commitment,' said Dr Noviar Andayani, director of the WCS Indonesia programme. ‘This case, and those over recent years, demonstrates what is possible. Orangutans remain under threat in Indonesia, and stopping the illegal trade in them must be part of a plan to ensure their survival.'

Live orangutans sold in Indonesia, or exported illegally to neighbouring countries, are kept as pets or in private zoo collections. Other wildlife traded from Indonesia includes rhino, elephant, tiger, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats, sharks, and rodents, being traded for food, medicines, skins, biomedical research, souvenirs and pets.

‘The illegal trade in wildlife is a global problem that is effecting wildlife around the world,' said Colin Poole, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia programmes. ‘Enforcement actions like these are extremely important in helping the conservation community turn the tide of this global issue.'

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