Thailand sends 3 orangutans rescued from illicit wildlife trade back to Indonesia

by Sophia Chen
Orangutan Repatriation

Thailand has repatriated three Sumatran orangutans, victims of the illicit wildlife trade, back to Indonesia. This joint effort between the two nations aims to combat the illegal wildlife trade. The orangutans, named Nobita and Shizuka, both aged 7, and Brian, aged 5, had been residing in a wildlife sanctuary in Thailand’s Ratchaburi province.

Following their repatriation, Thai authorities no longer have any trafficked orangutans under their care. Indonesia’s Ambassador to Thailand, Rachmat Budiman, expressed mixed feelings about the repatriation. While he is pleased that the orangutans will return to their natural habitat, he also feels sadness for the Thai caretakers who had formed bonds with these animals over several years.

The journey of the orangutans took them from the sanctuary to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, where they were subsequently flown to Jakarta. Indonesia covered the transportation expenses and conducted health examinations for the animals.

Upon arrival in Indonesia, the orangutans will be placed in a rehabilitation center in Sumatra before eventually being released into their natural habitat. This repatriation holds significance as it underscores the commitment of both countries to collaborate in combating the illicit wildlife trade. Athapol Charoenchansa, Thailand’s director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, expressed hope that this act would raise awareness about wildlife conservation in the region.

During their time at the Bangkok airport, Thai and Indonesian officials provided the orangutans with bananas and dragon fruit while they were inside their crates. Notably, Nobita and Shizuka were rescued as infants during a sting operation in 2016. They were discovered in Bangkok and had been offered for sale online for $20,000. Their heartwarming image hugging each other tightly in a basket went viral at the time. Brian, another male orangutan, was rescued from traffickers and sent to Thai wildlife officials in 2019.

This repatriation marks the latest in a series, with Thailand having sent a total of 74 orangutans back to Indonesia since 2006, including the three orangutans repatriated on this occasion. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) strictly prohibits international trade in orangutans. These critically endangered creatures are native to the forests of Sumatra and Borneo, but their habitat is diminishing due to increased agricultural land use, leaving them vulnerable to poaching.

Orangutans are frequently exploited for the pet trade and for display in zoos and other attractions. This repatriation effort reflects a commitment to safeguarding these magnificent creatures and preserving their dwindling natural habitat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Orangutan Repatriation

What is the significance of repatriating orangutans from Thailand to Indonesia?

The repatriation of orangutans from Thailand to Indonesia is significant as it reflects the joint commitment of both countries to combat the illegal wildlife trade. It highlights their dedication to protecting these critically endangered creatures and preserving their natural habitat.

How were the orangutans transported from Thailand to Indonesia?

The orangutans were transported from the wildlife sanctuary in Thailand to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. From there, they were put on a plane bound for Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesia covered the transportation costs and conducted health examinations for the animals.

What will happen to the orangutans upon their arrival in Indonesia?

Upon their arrival in Indonesia, the orangutans will be sent to a rehabilitation center in Sumatra. This rehabilitation process is crucial to prepare them for eventual release into their natural habitat.

Why is this repatriation important for wildlife conservation?

This repatriation demonstrates the commitment of both Thailand and Indonesia to collaborate in the fight against the illicit wildlife trade. It also serves as a means to raise awareness about wildlife conservation in the region. By returning these orangutans to their native habitat, it contributes to the preservation of a critically endangered species.

What are the main threats faced by orangutans in the wild?

Orangutans in the wild face several threats, including habitat loss due to the expansion of agricultural land use, making them more vulnerable to poaching. They are also often targeted for the pet trade and display in zoos and attractions. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) strictly prohibits international trade in orangutans to address these threats.

More about Orangutan Repatriation

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EnviroAdvocate December 25, 2023 - 6:57 pm

Thumbs up for raising awareness, keep up the fight!

WildlifeWarrior December 25, 2023 - 9:34 pm

These poor animals, glad they’re going home, no more trafficking!

NatureLover74 December 25, 2023 - 10:28 pm

repatriation of orangutans is great but sad for Thai carers, noble effort!


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