Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

Baby orangutan Bon Bon is being prepared to move to a conservation center in Sumatra. (AFP)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

  • The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities stopped Russian trafficker Andrei Zhestkov
  • Zhestkov was later sentenced to a year in prison in July

BALI, Indonesia: A baby orangutan that was drugged by a Russian trafficker in a failed bid to smuggle it out of Bali will be released back into the wild.
The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities on the Indonesian holiday island stopped Andrei Zhestkov, who was flying back to Russia, and opened his luggage to find a two-year-old orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket.
Zhestkov, sentenced to a year in prison in July, had packed baby formula and blankets for the orangutan. He was also carrying two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.
On Monday, conservation authorities in Bali rolled out a big fruit plate for fuzzy-haired Bon Bon as he prepares to move to a conservation center in Sumatra — one of just two places where the critically endangered species is found in the wild.
Bon Bon’s caretaker, Ketut Diandika, confessed to being a little bit sad at the ape’s departure.
“I actually want Bon Bon to stay here so that I can still take care of him,” he said.
The Southeast Asian archipelago’s rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and it is a key source and transit point for animal trafficking.
In a separate case at the weekend, officials in Sumatra’s Riau province said they arrested two men, allegedly part of an international trafficking ring, who were attempting to smuggle four lion cubs and a baby leopard from Africa, along with dozens of tortoises.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”