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Thailand sends smuggled orangutans back to Indonesia

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PHOTO: Nation Thailand

After being smuggled through Southeast Asia, seized by Thai border officials, and then cared for at a Thailand wildlife centre for 3 years, a pair of endangered Sumatran orangutans are being sent back to Indonesia.

Back in June 2017, border officials seized the orangutans, Ung Ing and Nathalie, from smugglers at a customs checkpoint in the southern province Songkhla, near Malaysia. After being seized, the orangutans, now 4 years old, were sent to a wildlife sanctuary in Ratchaburi.

Yesterday, the orangutans were transported from the Khao Prathapchang wildlife sanctuary in Ratchaburi to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. The primates were cleared for Covid-19 before the flight and fed bananas and green apples. The orangutans will stay at a rehabilitation centre in Indonesia’s Jambi province on Sumatra Island.

Deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Prakit Wongsriwattanakul, says this is the fifth time since 2006 that Thailand has returned orangutans, that were seized from smugglers, back to Indonesia in a collaborative crackdown on illegal wildlife trade. Altogether, 71 orangutans have been sent back to Indonesia from Thailand.

SOURCES: Reuters |Bangkok Post

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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