Last orangutans rescued from Thai smuggling ring set to jet back home to Indonesia

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

In a triumphant move for wildlife conservation, Thailand is gearing up to bid farewell to the last three orangutans smuggled into the country from Indonesia.

The adorable primates, seven year olds Nobita and Shizuka, and four year old Brian will be winging their way home next Thursday, December 21, as confirmed by Narin Prathuanchai, the director-general of Thailand’s National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation Department (DNP).

The story began in 2019 when the department took custody of these great apes, housing them at the Khao Zon Wildlife Breeding Station in Ratchaburi province. This marked a turning point in the battle against wildlife trafficking, with Thailand acting as a guardian for these precious creatures.

Over the years, a staggering 71 orangutans have been successfully repatriated to Indonesia since 2016. Notable among them were Oong Ing and Nathalie, who were sent packing back to Jakarta in 2020. The release of these orangutans follows their smuggling into Thailand, where they were held as crucial evidence in the ongoing battle against illegal wildlife trade—a lucrative market where a single orangutan can fetch a jaw-dropping 1 million baht.

Protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), these young orangutans were not only victims but living proof of the ruthless black market trade. Director-General Narin Prathuanchai assured that the department, acting as temporary guardians, ensured the well-being of these innocent creatures during the smuggling trials, reported Thai PBS World.

As the curtains draw on this chapter, the orangutans are poised for a triumphant return to their native land. But it’s not just a goodbye – it’s a celebration of resilience, courage, and a victory against those who sought to exploit these incredible beings.

Before their journey back to Indonesia, the primates will undergo comprehensive health checks to ensure they are fit for the adventure that awaits them. A ceremony of grand proportions will mark their farewell, set to take place at the Cargo & Mail Commercial Building of Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

Thailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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