JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Two smuggled Indonesian orangutans fly home from Thailand

Friday, December 18, 2020, 15:16 GMT+7
Two smuggled Indonesian orangutans fly home from Thailand
A Sumatran orangutan sits in a cage before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

Eating fruit and drinking from plastic bottles, two Sumatran orangutans stared from their cages at Bangkok airport on Thursday before flying home to Indonesia, years after being smuggled into Thailand.

Poachers in Southeast Asia frequently capture the critically endangered orangutans to sell as pets, and police said four-year-olds Ung Aing and Natalee were supposed to be sold to a tourism business.

Wildlife traffickers tried to smuggle the two in via Malaysia in June 2017, but they were intercepted at the border -- along with 39 Hamilton tortoises, 12 Indian turtles and six raccoons -- after police received a tip-off about the vehicle they were in.

The orangutans are intercepted by Thai police at the Malaysian border in 2017, after they received a tip-off about the vehicle they were in. Photo: AFP

The orangutans are intercepted by Thai police at the Malaysian border in 2017, after they received a tip-off about the vehicle they were in. Photo: AFP

The pair have been living in a wildlife rescue centre in Thailand and, once back in Indonesia, will undergo a rehabilitation program before being released back into the wild in Sumatra.

Ung Aing and Natalee had to take coronavirus tests before their departure, conducted by animal experts from Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.

Officials fed the duo bananas, coconuts and electrolytes through a small opening in their cages; hiding in hessian sacks, the animals were shy at first but eventually accepted their treats.

A Sumatran orangutan accepts a banana before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

A Sumatran orangutan accepts a banana before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

Thai Department of National Parks and Wildlife deputy director general Prakit Vongsrivattanakul said 69 confiscated orangutans have been sent back to Indonesia since 2006, and many have been able to return to the wild.

Even though the two orangutans are now on their way home, their future is still precarious.

A Sumatran orangutan sits in a cage before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

A Sumatran orangutan sits in a cage before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered and their population is estimated to be fewer than 15,000.

Sumatran orangutans' habitat has drastically shrunk over the past few decades from logging, palm oil plantations and mining.

Plantation workers and villagers sometimes attack the animals for being pests.

A Sumatran orangutan sits in a cage before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

A Sumatran orangutan sits in a cage before being repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia after having been smuggled into the kingdom, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok in December 17, 2020. Photo: AFP

AFP

More

Read more

Explainer: China's new COVID-19 outbreaks

There is no indication that it was related to any recent imported cases, though officials said on Wednesday that the initial case might have been a traveller from overseas

2 days ago
;

Photos

VIDEOS

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Latest news