Monday, November 29, 2004

Thailand to return smuggled orangutans to Indonesia

A year-long effort to return rare Indonesian orangutans trafficked illegally to Thailand will finally happen, with a delegation from the Thai police visited Indonesia to check the final preparations for the repatriation.

The team from the Thai forestry police led by Maj. Gen. Swake Pinsinchai said on Sunday that his visit was aimed at ensuring Indonesia's readiness to accept the endangered primates, as well as to strengthen cooperation to end the trade in protected animals.

"I will present reports of my visit here to the Thai authorities so as to speed up the repatriation process," Swake told a press conference here.

Speaking through an interpreter, he added the visit reflected his government's seriousness in bringing the species back to their natural habitat.

However, there was no specific date for the return of the primates or the number of orangutans in question.

Orangutan are an endangered primate living in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

After a year-long investigation it was found that 150 orangutan were in the hands of Bangkok Safari World, and were being ill-treated as show attractions.

Swake said most orangutans were illegally acquired with the backing of certain high-ranking officials in Thailand, and were put on display for boxing competitions as well as other entertainment purposes.

The ill-treatment of the primates caused a uproar among Indonesian wildlife activists, who demanded the return of the animals to their original habitat.

Story here.

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