BANGKOK: Wildlife authorities in Thailand sent two orang utans back to Indonesia as part of a collaborative effort to combat illicit wildlife trade.
Ten-year-old female Cola and seven-year-old male Giant were transported from wildlife sanctuaries in the western province of Ratchaburi to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, where they were put on a plane to Jakarta.
Giant was smuggled into Thailand in 2014, while Cola was born in a breeding centre to two smuggled orang utans which were sent back to Indonesia several years ago, according to Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Police found Giant when they stopped and searched a bus heading from the southern border area to Bangkok, it said.
Sixty-seven orang utans have been sent back to Indonesia in three previous batches, and more are expected to go back next year, the agency said.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – CITES – prohibits international trade in orang utans.
They are found only in the forests of Sumatra and Borneo but their habitat is shrinking due to the growth of agricultural land use, making them more vulnerable to poaching.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of the natural world, lists orang utans as critically endangered.
Orang utans are often sold into the pet trade and for display in zoos and other attractions.
“The return of these orang utans will send a very strong message to the criminals responsible for the smuggling of animals across countries that both governments will act decisively, ” Indonesian diplomat Dicky Komar said at the handover ceremony at the airport.
Cola will be sent a wildlife rehabilitation centre in East Kalimantan, while Giant will stay in an animal nursery centre in Sumatra. — AP