The Jakarta Post
Six orangutans were flown from Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang to Sepinggan Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday, from where they will be transported to Nyaru Menteng in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, via trucks.
'They were returned from Thailand. We will bring them to Nyaru Menteng, because based on DNA examinations, they are Central Kalimantan orangutans or Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii,' said Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) CEO Jamartin Sihite on Wednesday.
The return of the six orangutans to Central Kalimantan is part of government efforts since September 2015 to repatriate the mammals. Overall, the government has returned 16 orangutans smuggled abroad to Indonesia.
Sihite said two out of the six orangutans rescued were female baby orangutans called Puspa, 10 months, and Moza, 3 years old. The two baby orangutans were returned from Kuwait. Apart from the six orangutans, he said, BOSF would also release one baby orangutan, called Junior, rescued during a smuggling attempt at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
'Those orangutans still need to be rehabilitated before they are released back to the forests,' said Sihite.
While awaiting the results of their DNA examination, the seven orangutans had been treated in the quarantine facility of Indonesia's biggest public zoo, Safari Park, in Cisarua, West Java.
Sihite said Puspa would be handed over to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), which is headquartered near Medan, North Sumatra, and led by Ian Singleton.
'From the DNA examination results, we know that Puspa is a Sumatran orangutan or Pongo pygmaeus abelii,' said Sihite.
'Moza, Junior and two pairs of mother and baby orangutans returned from Thailand will go back to BOSF in Nyaru Menteng, near Palangkaraya,' he went on.
The return process involves the directorate general of Natural Resources Conservation and Ecosystem at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Indonesian Orangutan Forum (FORINA), BOSF, the Safari Park, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and low-cost carrier Sriwijaya Air.
Sihite said he was apprehensive about Puspa's and Moza's cases, because they had been smuggled to Kuwait on a commercial flight. This meant they had been smuggled via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, which should have applied tighter security procedures to prevent wildlife smuggling.
He urged greater commitment from all parties to stop wildlife trade and smuggling. 'A lack of such commitment has led to Puspa and Moza being stranded in Kuwait,' he said. (nov/ebf)(+)
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