Police arrest orangutan

JAMBI, Jambi: Police apprehended five poachers Monday for allegedly shooting and mistreating an orangutan in the Bukit Duabelas National Park.

""They are being detained at the Tebo Tengah Ilir police station for further interrogation,"" said Tebo Tengah Ilir police chief First Insp. Syamhari.

The five suspects, all residents of Mangupeh village in Tebo regency, could face a prison sentence of up to five years and fines of Rp 100 million (about US$11,000) if found guilty.

Police seized two air rifles and 10 pellets which were similar to those lodged in the ape's body. The orangutan was brought to North Sumatra earlier for medical treatment.

According to Syamhari, there were a total of 12 perpetrators, including a student who eluded police arrest. ""Police have identified the other seven men and are still searching for them,"" he said.

The suspects allegedly confessed to shooting the animal for money. They were said to be planning to collect Rp 5 million (US$543) ransom, as they thought it was earlier owned by a German citizen who had handed it over to authorities to be returned to its natural habitat.

The animal had been caged and was suffering from gunshot wounds for 27 days when a team from the Jambi office's Frankfurt Zoological Society found it on Nov. 3. The team paid Rp 500,000 to residents to have it released. -- JP

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