Indonesian orangutans freed from rich wildlife criminals


This video, recorded in Indonesia, says about itself:

Hercules the Orangutan – Orangutan Diary – BBC

20 September 2012

Wildlife conservationist Lone Drøscher Nielsen interacts with Hercules, a rescued Orangutan who has been allowed to roam one of the river islands near Lone’s Orangutan sanctuary in Borneo.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, report by Michel Maas:

Kidnapped orangutans back in Indonesia after years

Today, 08:19

One cannot see them, the orangutans returned yesterday from Thailand to Indonesia. The apes are on the runway in hermetically sealed boxes and photographers have to settle for the fingers which the animals occasionally put through a viewing slot.

The arrival of the orangutans is an event. Even the Indonesian Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, is there to welcome them. There are only fourteen of them, but they can help to keep the population of the species stable, says the minister.

The orangutans have been freed from the hands of animal traders in Thailand. Eleven animals were en route to a zoo who wanted to use them for boxing performances. Two orangutans have since been born in captivity and one individual was liberated from the collection of a wealthy Thai. DNA tests proved they were from Indonesia.

‘On the plane, the orangutans played with jute sacks’

Seven years ago the Dutchman Edwin Wiek found the animals in a Thai zoo. Wiek is the founder of the animal protection organization WFFT (Wildlife Friends Foundation of Thailand) and fought for the return of the orangutans to Indonesia.

It took so long was because of Thai law and the unwillingness of the Thai judiciary to prosecute the owners of the animals.

Culprits are never convicted, says Wiek. “The owners are wealthy and have good connections.” For five years the animals were held by the Thai government, until finally a few months ago an agreement was signed between the ministers of both countries.

After landing in Jakarta a new journey begins for the great apes. Before being brought to Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, they go into quarantine. “It is not superfluous,” said Wiek. “In Thailand they sat close together in dirty cages.”

Wiek’s joy on the return of the animals is sometimes tempered by worries about the future of orangutans in Indonesia. By the advance of agribusiness and the arrival of plantations natural habitats are shrinking.

Mixed feelings

As a result, orangutans are a highly endangered species. Of the Sumatran subspecies only slightly more than 6600 live in the wild. Orangutan populations in Kalimantan has been reduced to 36,000. “I also have mixed feelings,” said Wiek. “I am concerned about the future of these animals both in captivity and in the wild.”

Anyway, about the fourteen orangutans which are now in Indonesia, Wiek is happy. “Otherwise they would have been sold to the highest bidder in Thailand and then they would have ended up in a terrible zoo.”

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