Orangutans heading back to Indonesia

Orangutans heading back to Indonesia

Handover in line with commitments under international treaty, say wildlife officials

Fani, a 15-year-old orangutan, hangs on a pole at the Orangutan Rehabilitation and Reintroduction site of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in East Kalimantan province of Indonesia. (Reuters Photo)
Fani, a 15-year-old orangutan, hangs on a pole at the Orangutan Rehabilitation and Reintroduction site of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation in East Kalimantan province of Indonesia. (Reuters Photo)

Thai conservation officials will repatriate two orangutans to Indonesia under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) by the end of December.

The handover will be only the second time that apes have been returned after 14 were sent back to Indonesia in 2015, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Thailand ratified Cites, an international treaty signed to protect endangered plants and animals, in 1983.

The first orangutan to be returned is a nine-year-old female named Kola, which was born in Thailand to parents originating in Indonesia. Kola’s parents were sent back home in 2015. 

The second ape is a seven-year-old male named Giant, saved from a wildlife smuggler over five years ago. He has been in the custody of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment ever since. 

Both apes have been living in the ministry’s wildlife breeding facility in Ratchaburi province.

A senior department official, who declined to be named, said another four orangutans would be returned to Indonesia.

Though both the orangutans were born in Thailand, authorities found that the DNA of the pair matched orangutans commonly found in Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia.

Based on Cites regulations, confiscated wildlife must be returned to their country of origin.

The Thai government will cover all costs of shipping the apes back to Indonesia. 

In March next year, Thai forestry officials will visit Indonesia to observe a project in which orangutans are released into the wild.


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