Smuggled orangutans begin a brand new life after being returned to Indonesia

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© Reuters. Orangutan, confiscated three years ago on the border between Thailand and Malaysia, looks out of a cage before being released into the forest at Sultan Thaha Saifuddin Airport

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By Yudi Saputra

JAMBI (Reuters) – Two critically endangered orangutans who were rescued from smugglers on the Thai-Malaysian border in 2017 have arrived in Indonesia to undergo rehabilitation so that they can finally be released back into their native forest habitat.

The orangutans Ung Aing and Natalee were believed to be between four and six years old and spent three years at the Khao Pratab Chang Wildlife Breeding Center in the central Ratchaburi Province of Thailand.

On Friday, they arrived in Jambi Province, western Indonesia, for medical exams, which include COVID-19 swabs, before being rehabilitated to prepare them for their jungle home.

"We will conduct a medical examination and examine their behavior and habits before we send them to a forest rehabilitation center in the Danau Alo Sanctuary," Rahmad Saleh, director of the local agency for the conservation of natural resources (BKSDA), told reporters. after the great apes were rolled into two metal cages at Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi in front of media and officials.

Video recordings showed the female orangutans eagerly climbing out of their carriers into a temporary holding facility.

It is unclear how long the couple will stay in the orangutan sanctuary before being released into the wild.

Orangutans are illegally poached for food, breeding to supply the national and international pet trade and for traditional medicine.

Deforestation and deforestation, including clearing forests to make way for monetary crops like palm oil, have reduced the habitat of critically endangered species.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are an estimated 100,000 Bornean orangutans in the wild and only about 7,500 Sumatran orangutans.

According to a joint statement by the two countries, a total of 71 orangutans have been returned from Thailand to Indonesia since 2006.

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