Thai monkey business to end

One of the world's largest cases of great ape smuggling will end next week when about 50 orangutan rescued from a Thai amusement park fly home to their native Indonesia.

    Fewer than 30,000 orangutan are left in Southeast Asia's jungles

    The trafficked animals, many of them forced to stage mock kick-boxing bouts at Bangkok's Safari World theme park, will be greeted on their arrival by the wife of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president.

    They were confiscated from a private zoo near Bangkok several years ago, and DNA tests proved they had come from the island of Borneo in Indonesia.

    The orangutan, being held in an animal rescue centre west of the capital, would leave Bangkok on an Indonesian military transport plane on September 23, Edwin Wiek of Wildlife Friends Foundation in Thailand said on Thursday.

    The sending back announcement was welcomed on Thursday by international nonprofit groups fighting the illegal wildlife trade.

    Wiek said: "It's a huge scandal and it's cost a lot of time and effort, so I'm really happy to see it coming it to an end after more than three years".

    Action applauded

    Steve Galster of the group WildAid applauded the joint action taken by Thailand and Indonesia to resolve the animals' fate, describing it as the successful outcome of a newly established Association of Southeast Asian Nation wildlife enforcement network.

    "We hope that both countries learn a lesson that through further collaboration they can prevent future smuggling," he said.

    An Indonesian embassy spokesman confirmed the repatriation plan, but said only 41 of the long-armed, reddish-brown primates were on the manifest, rather than the 53 mentioned by Wiek.

    After a police search in 2004, Safari World's owners said their 115 orangutan were the result of a successful domestic breeding programme.

    Fewer than 30,000 orangutan are thought to be left in the jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia, and environmentalists say the species could become extinct in 20 years if the current rate of decline continues.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.