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Rescued baby orangutan returns to Kalimantan habitat after illegal smuggling

In a joint operation, a baby Bornean orangutan, Logos, illegally smuggled to East Java, was successfully repatriated to its natural habitat in Kalimantan, Indonesia, after a criminal investigation.

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INDONESIA: A joint effort by the Natural Resource Conservation Center (Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam or BKSDA) East Java, the Directorate of Special Criminal Investigation (Ditreskrimsus) of the East Java Regional Police, and the Indonesian Wildlife Network (JIS) successfully repatriated a baby Bornean orangutan of the Pongo Pygmnaeus Wurmbii subspecies, named Logos, which had been illegally smuggled into East Java.

The primate, protected by law, has been returned to the BKSDA in Central Kalimantan.

Logos was recovered as part of a criminal investigation by the Directorate of Special Criminal Investigation (Ditreskrimsus) of the East Java Regional Police on 23 June.

At the time, officers from the Special Crime Investigation Unit of the East Java Regional Police were conducting an investigation into the smuggling of protected wildlife in the Tanjung Perak area of Surabaya.

They received information about the sale of protected animals at an address on Jalan Laksda M Nasir, Perak Utara, Pabean Cantikan Sub-district, Surabaya.

Officers apprehended a suspect known as FF, who was found transporting a live Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmnaeus) in a truck, with a wildlife handling fee of Rp800,000. FF had traveled from Jalan Basiri to the Trisakti Port in South Kalimantan with the intention of reaching the Tanjung Perak Port in Surabaya.

The perpetrator lacked valid documentation or permits for the orangutan. The primate had initially been transported from the Trisakti Port in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, to the Tanjung Perak Port, Surabaya, East Java, for illegal trade.

Hari Purnomo, the Head of the Forest Police Unit (Kasat Polhut) of BKSDA East Java, stated, “It is not yet clear where the baby orangutan would have been sold, whether abroad or in another region. There is no detailed information regarding the unraveling of this case.”

Following its transportation via Lion Air from East Java, the one-year-old male Bornean orangutan arrived at BKSDA in Central Kalimantan on Friday (22 Sep).

After undergoing a health examination by a veterinarian, the baby orangutan was declared healthy. It is currently placed in a transit cage at BKSDA Central Kalimantan, awaiting further instructions for the rehabilitation process.

Selamet Wibowo, Head of Conservation Section I at BKSDA Central Kalimantan, explained, “The orangutan will remain in the transit location until the end of the month, after which it will undergo rehabilitation. Typically, rehabilitation takes about five months, allowing the orangutan to regain its wild instincts. Once ready, it will be released back into its natural habitat.”

Nur Patria Kurniawan, Head of BKSDA East Java, emphasized the importance of returning and translocating wild animals to their natural habitats as part of conservation efforts to preserve natural resources and ecosystems.

He added, “Illegal wildlife trade and smuggling are violations of the law and can result in criminal penalties.” These actions serve not only to protect wildlife but also to educate the public on the vital role of wild animals in ecosystems.

FF is currently facing legal proceedings under Indonesian law, including violations of the Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems Act (Law No. 5 of 1990) and related regulations, with potential penalties of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of Rp100 million.

“The legal process is now in the hands of the court,” stated AKBP Wahyu Hidayat, Head of the Special Criminal Investigation Sub-Directorate (Kasubdit Tipidter) at the Directorate of Special Criminal Investigation (Ditreskrimsus) of the East Java Regional Police.

As of now, the one-year-old orangutan’s health remains stable, marking a successful rescue and repatriation effort to protect this endangered species and conserve Indonesia’s rich biodiversity.

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