An illegal wildlife trader in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia has been sentenced to seven-months in jail for owning and selling orangutans.
Since 1924, when the Indonesian law was written, there have only been three traders sentenced for this type of crime, and this is the first occurrence in Sumatra.
The case began with the confiscation of a young male orangutan named Julius last July in Mardinding, in the province of North Sumatra. The unnamed trader was trying to sell the three-year-old orangutan.
A surprise raid by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry’s Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Wildlife Crime Unit and the veterinarian and staff of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), resulted in the arrest.
“We are hopeful that this prosecution sends a clear message that illegal wildlife trade will not be tolerated in Indonesia,” said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program.
Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation for the PanEco Foundation and the person in charge of the SOCP, added: “It’s absolutely fantastic to finally have a prosecution of an illegal orangutan ‘owner’ in Sumatra, but it’s also long overdue. With this sentence, as long as it is widely publicized in the region, anyone considering capturing, killing or keeping an orangutan illegally will certainly think twice about it, and hopefully the numbers being killed and kept in the coming years will begin to decline.”
Julius, the rescued orangutan, is now being cared for at the SOCP’s quarantine center near Medan, with just over 50 other orangutans also being prepared for a return to the forest.
Although there have been over 2,500 confiscations of illegally held orangutans in Indonesia since the early 1970’s, the first actual prosecution of an illegal orangutan owner occurred in Borneo in 2010, nearly one-hundred years after the law was enacted.
by Tom Mills The Orangutan Conservancy 2/16/12