Thailand to Return Smuggled Orangutans to Indonesia After Five Years

A young orangutan confiscated from tourist attractions undergo health checks by Thai wildlife officers in Kao Pratubchang Conservation Center in Rachaburi. KHAOSOD

BANGKOK (DPA) – Fourteen Indonesian orangutans held in Thailand for five years are finally to head home, an official said Thursday.

Thai authorities found 13 animals left in cages by a roadside in Phuket in 2010, apparently bound for a private zoo, according to an official at the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, who requested anonymity. 



They were recognised as Sumatran orangutans, distinguishable from their Borneo cousins for being slimmer and having paler, longer hair.

They were held in a wildlife rehabilitation centre for five years, while Indonesia declined to have them repatriated, and where they bred one more orangutan.



But Jakarta wrote this month to request their return, and has agreed to foot the transport bill. The primates were to be flown back to Indonesia in September by the Indonesian military.

Orangutans are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Sumatran species is the rarer of the two, with a population of just over 7,000 according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.



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