Credit By: Agencia EFE
Joint Efforts in Wildlife Conservation
In a concerted effort to combat illicit wildlife trade, Thailand and Indonesia recently collaborated in repatriating three trafficked Sumatran orangutans back to their natural habitat in Indonesia. Nobita and Shizuka, aged seven, and 5-year-old Brian, were residing at a wildlife sanctuary in Ratchaburi, Thailand. The joint initiative marks a significant step in addressing the illegal trade of endangered species, highlighting the commitment of both nations to wildlife conservation.
Emotions Surrounding Repatriation
Expressing his sentiments, Rachmat Budiman, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Thailand, conveyed “mixed feelings” about the return of the orangutans. While elated that these primates would rejoin their natural environment, he expressed empathy for the Thai caretakers who had developed deep bonds with the animals during their stay in Thailand.
Repatriation Process and Future Plans
The orangutans underwent transportation arrangements and health examinations facilitated by Indonesian authorities, covering the expenses incurred during the repatriation. Upon their arrival in Jakarta via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, they are destined for a rehabilitation center in Sumatra before reintroduction into their native habitat, elucidated Rachtmat, ensuring their seamless transition back into the wild.
Collaborative Commitment to Conservation
The repatriation signifies the joint commitment of Thailand and Indonesia to combating the illegal wildlife trade. Athapol Charoenchansa, Thailand’s director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, emphasized its significance in raising awareness and fostering collaboration for wildlife conservation across the region.
Care and Display Before Departure
Thai and Indonesian officials nourished the orangutans during their transit at Bangkok airport, offering bananas and dragon fruit. At the same time, the primates were exhibited within their crates before their departure.
Rescues and Previous Repatriations
Nobita and Shizuka were rescued in 2016 during a sting operation in Bangkok, while Brian was brought under the care of Thai wildlife officials in 2019. Thailand’s commitment to repatriation efforts is evident in the return of 74 orangutans to Indonesia since 2006, including the recent trio. Notably, in 2020, two other orangutans, Ung-Ing and Natalie, were also repatriated.
Urgency of Conservation Efforts
The Sumatran and Bornean orangutans face critical endangerment due to habitat loss caused by expanding agricultural land use, rendering them more susceptible to poaching. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) strictly prohibits international trade in orangutans, acknowledging their vulnerable status. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies orangutans as critically endangered, underscoring the urgency to protect and preserve these iconic primates.
The Challenge of Illicit Trade
The unfortunate reality persists that orangutans are frequently victims of the pet trade and are exploited for display in zoos and various attractions, highlighting the ongoing challenges in curbing illegal wildlife trafficking.
The joint efforts between Thailand and Indonesia to repatriate these trafficked orangutans serve as a poignant reminder of the collective responsibility to protect endangered species and combat the unlawful exploitation of wildlife.
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