THAILAND: Thailand and Indonesia collaborated in a joint effort to repatriate three trafficked Sumatran orangutans, marking a significant step in combatting the illegal wildlife trade.
Nobita and Shizuka, aged 7 and 5 respectively, along with 4-year-old Brian, were repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia on Thursday (21 Dec).
The three orangutans underwent thorough health examinations, testing negative for tuberculosis and hepatitis. DNA analysis confirmed their identity as a species commonly found in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Previously housed at a wildlife sanctuary in Ratchaburi, Thailand, these orangutans had been subject to careful care and examination.
Following their repatriation, Thai authorities confirmed that there are no more trafficked orangutans currently under their care.
Officials expressed satisfaction that the primates were returned to their natural habitat.
Rachmat Budiman, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Thailand, expressed mixed feelings about the repatriation, acknowledging the happiness of the orangutans returning home while expressing sadness for the Thai caretakers who had formed bonds with them over the years.
The repatriation process involved transporting the orangutans from the sanctuary to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, where they were then flown to Jakarta. Indonesia covered the costs of transportation and health examinations, highlighting the collaborative commitment between the two nations in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
Athapol Charoenchansa, Thailand’s director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, emphasized the importance of the repatriation in showcasing the countries’ joint dedication to wildlife conservation.
He expressed hope that the event would raise awareness about the pressing need to protect endangered species in the region.
Nobita and Shizuka made headlines in 2016 when they were rescued as infants during a sting operation in Bangkok.
Priced at US$20,000, they were discovered online and placed in a taxi, their poignant embrace in a basket capturing the hearts of many. Brian, another rescued male orangutan, joined the Thai wildlife officials in 2019.
This recent repatriation adds to Thailand’s commendable track record, with 74 orangutans sent back to Indonesia since 2006, emphasizing the nation’s commitment to upholding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The international treaty, ratified by Thailand in 1983, prohibits the trade of orangutans, recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as critically endangered.
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