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Indonesia rescues captive orangutans, but leaves their owners untouched

08 / 02 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — A recent seizure of two young orangutans from households in Indonesia has once again highlighted the lack of legal consequences for people who keep the near-extinct apes as pets. Officials from the local conservation agency and Gunung Leuser National Park in the province of Aceh confiscated the juvenile Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), a critically endangered species, on Jan. 22 and 23. One of the apes had reportedly been kept as a pet for at least six months. Both were taken to a rehabilitation center in neighboring North Sumatra province for treatment, ahead of a possible release back into the wild. However, the people who held the orangutans captive have not been charged with any crime, despite possession of a protected species — which in Indonesia includes orangutans — carrying a prison sentence of up to five years. “If pet owners of orangutans [finally] get prosecuted, law enforcers can take down the trade network and nab the poachers,” said Daniek Hendarto, a wildlife activist with the NGO Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP). “It’s important that this is done to protect the lives of orangutans in their habitats.” Aceh province, in red at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, is where four in five illegally traded orangutans come from. Image courtesy of TUBS/Wikimedia Commons. Sapto Aji Prabowo, the head of the Aceh conservation agency, acknowledged that while his office often pressed charges against wildlife traders, it didn’t go after the buyers. The latter are only given…

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