Indonesia busts Russian smuggling drugged orangutan

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This handout picture taken and released on March 23, 2019 by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Bali shows a rescued two-year-old orangutan resting inside a rattan basket, after a smuggling attempt by a Russian tourist at Bali's international airport in Denpasar. (AFP)
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This handout picture taken and released on March 23, 2019 by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Bali shows a caregiver bottle-feeding a rescued two-year-old orangutan after a smuggling attempt by a Russian tourist at Bali's international airport in Denpasar. (AFP)
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This handout picture taken and released on March 23, 2019 by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Bali shows officials with detained Russian national Andrei Zhestkov (C), accused of smuggling a two-year-old orangutan in a rattan basket, at Bali's international airport in Denpasar. (AFP)
Updated 24 March 2019
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Indonesia busts Russian smuggling drugged orangutan

  • Orangutans are a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 100,000 remaining worldwide

DENPASAR, Indonesia: A Russian tourist attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase to bring home and keep as a pet has been arrested in Bali, police said Saturday.
Andrei Zhestkov was detained in Denpasar airport late on Friday while passing through a security screening before a planned flight back to Russia.
Suspicious officers stopped him and opened his luggage to find a two-year-old male orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket.
“We believe the orangutan was fed allergy pills which caused him to sleep. We found the pills inside the suitcase,” Bali conservation agency official I Ketut Catur Marbawa told AFP Saturday.
“(Zhestkov) seemed prepared, like he was transporting a baby,” he added.
The 27-year-old also packed baby formula and blankets for the orangutan, Marbawa said.
Police also found two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.
Zhestkov told authorities that the protected species was gifted by his friend, another Russian tourist who bought the primate for $3,000 from a street market in Java.
He claimed his friend, who has since left Indonesia, convinced him he could bring home the orangutan as a pet.
The Russian could face up to five years in prison and $7,000 in fines for smuggling, Marbawa said.
Orangutans are a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 100,000 remaining worldwide.
Plantation workers and villagers in Indonesia often consider the apes pests and sometimes attack them, while poachers capture the animals to sell as pets.
A string of fatal attacks on the apes have been blamed on farmers and hunters.
Four Indonesian men were arrested last year over the killing of an orangutan shot some 130 times with an air gun.


Indonesia pet orangutans released back into the wild

Updated 59 sec ago
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Indonesia pet orangutans released back into the wild

  • Primates were returned to the wild at Pinus Jantho Forest Reserve
  • A string of fatal attacks on the great apes in recent has been blamed on farmers and hunters

JAKARTA: The young orangutan looks back at her rescuers before clambering over her steel cage and into the trees, swinging from hand to hand and hanging upside down.
Five-year-old primate Elaine, covered in fuzzy cinnamon-colored hair, was one of two critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans released back into the wild Tuesday.
Both female apes were rescued after being kept as pets by villagers in Aceh province on Sumatra island.
Elaine and four-year-old Reipok Rere spent nearly two years learning to fend for themselves at a rehabilitation center and “forest school” before being returned to the wild at Pinus Jantho Forest Reserve.
The healthy pair have joined nearly 120 other orangutans freed from captivity at the conservation site, said the Aceh natural resources conservation agency.
The rescue is a rare spot of bright news for the critically endangered species, which has seen its habitat shrink drastically over the past few decades largely due to the destruction of forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining.
A string of fatal attacks on the great apes in recent has been blamed on farmers and hunters.
Plantation workers and villagers are sometimes known to attack the animal because they see it as a pest, while poachers also capture them to sell as pets.