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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Our conservation centre in Ketapang takes in two baby orangutans rescued by police

Our team in Ketapang is caring for two baby orangutans rescued in a raid by the Rapid Response Unit conducted by police from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) in West Borneo. The two orangutans, a male of about a year and a female of about eight months old, were found packed up in tiny cages, ready to be sent on to a buyer.  They were taken to our Orangutan Conservation Centre for treatment and care.

A man was arrested for the illegal trafficking of wildlife in direct transactions and using online social media sites. According to David Muhammad, Head of the Law Enforcement Agency of the MoEF, the orangutans were captured by a hunter in Sintang and collected by the suspect who was selling them for about IDR 3 million (about £175.) He added: “Our team is continuing its investigation as we believe the man now under arrest belongs to an international trafficking syndicate.” Muhammad explained that the operation began after the SPORC team received a report from the local community about a house where endangered species were being stored. “After an early morning investigation, we carried out the raid when we knew the perpetrator was in the house.” He added that, in addition to selling orangutans, the perpetrator also claimed to have sold other endangered species such as eagles and gibbons. The animals are mostly sold abroad.

IAR Indonesia vet Temia said: “The general condition of the two orangutans is not bad, although both are dehydrated and suffering from severe distress. One of them is rocking back and forth - this is an abnormal behaviour presented by animals in extremely stressful conditions.”

Social media platforms are being used increasingly by wildlife traffickers, who often sell or order wildlife on Facebook or Instagram. “If we want to stop the trade in wildlife we must target cyber crime,” said Tantyo Bangun, Chairman of IAR Indonesia. “We must work together with all online social networks which are currently failing to tackle this illicit activity. Before being captured and sold, baby orangutans are torn from their mothers who are often shot dead while trying to protect their infants. Orangutans in West Borneo have experienced rapid declines of up to 60% in the last 50 years, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN.) This steep decline caused the IUCN to reclassify the population as Critically Endangered. Karmele Llano Sanchez, Programme Director of IAR Indonesia, said: “The illegal trade in orangutans is still one of the major threats to the orangutan’s survival.”

The two new arrivals bring the total number of orangutans in our rescue centre in Ketapang to 111. “Having such a large number of orangutans undergoing rehabilitation, and more still needing to be rescued, makes it harder and harder to find safe places where we can release them,” adds Sanchez. “If we do not address the root cause of the problem, we will never halt the decline of orangutans in the wild. Therefore we admire and applaud the work of the Law Enforcement Agency of the MoEF in West Kalimantan and hope the illegal trade in wildlife will be stopped altogether before it’s too late.”