WCS REPORTS: Indonesia Steps-up Fight Against Illegal Orangutan Trade

  • Three suspected orangutan smugglers arrested in Kalimantan
  • WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit played a key role in arrests

NEW YORK (June 22, 2010) – The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a successful raid by Indonesian authorities in Pontianak, in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, that resulted in the arrest of three suspects who allegedly attempted to illegally sell a baby orangutan.

This is one of the first cases in many years against suspected illegal orangutan dealers in Indonesia, and possibly the first case ever in Kalimantan. It represents a continuing rise in action against the illegal trade in wildlife in Indonesia. In the last two years there have been over 20 arrests for illegally possessing or trading protected wildlife, including endangered Sumatra tigers, and pangolins.

The raid in Pontianak took place on June 21st and recovered a live baby orangutan that was approximately 6 months old. The raid was conducted by the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with the Anti-Wildlife Crime Forum, made up of WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit and local partners. The Wildlife Crime Unit, created by WCS in 2003, provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.

Young orangutans are favoured by dealers, and their mothers are often killed in the process of capturing them. The baby orangutan confiscated during this raid is now being cared for at the International Animal Rescue facility in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation for the Indonesian Department of Forestry.  Mr. Ir. Darori M.M. expressed appreciation to the officers that took part in the raid, and thanked non-governmental partners who supported the operation.

“This is an important case and an impressive result. I hope this will send a warning to others involved in the illegal trade in protected wildlife in Indonesia that it will not be tolerated,” said Mr Darori. “I urge state prosecutors to focus now on the prosecution of this case.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society is actively trying to reduce the damaging impact of illegal wildlife trade.

“The illegal wildlife trade is a massive threat in Indonesia, but one that can be addressed with a strong government commitment”, said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program. “This case, and those over recent years, demonstrates what is possible. Orangutans remain under threat in Indonesia, and stopping the illegal trade in them must be part of a plan to ensure their survival”

Live orangutans sold in Indonesia, or exported illegally to neighbouring countries, are kept as pets or in private zoo collections. Other wildlife traded from Indonesia includes rhino, elephant, tiger, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats, sharks, and rodents, being traded for food, medicines, skins, biomedical research, souvenirs and pets.

“The illegal trade in wildlife is a global problem that is effecting wildlife around the world,” said Colin Poole, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Programs.  “Enforcement actions like these are extremely important in helping the conservation community turn the tide of this global issue.”

Contact:
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)
 

MEDIA NOTES

  • In Indonesia, organutans are only found on the island of Sumatra, and in Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. The total population of orangutan in Kalimantan is probably now less than 30,000 animals.
  • The Kalimantan Anti-wildlife Crime Forum is made up of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), The Titian Foundation (Yayasan Titian), The Palung Foundation (Yayasan Palung), The Wildlife Advocacy Institute (LASA) and International Animal Rescue (IAR), working together to reduce illegal wildlife trade in Indonesia. Contact details for representatives of all partners are available on request.
  • WCS works to protect orangutans by working alongside the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Indonesian Police, local governments, and local communities. 
  • Under Indonesian law it is illegal to kill, possess, buy or sell orangutans or their body parts. Violation of the law can carry a fine and/or prison sentence. 
  • WCS’s work is supported by the World Bank-Global Tiger Initiative ‘Tiger Futures’ Project and the USAID Orangutan Conservation Services Program.  Contact details for representatives are available on request.
  • This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of the Wildlife Conservation Society and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.




The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.


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