Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Baby orang utans rescued

The Star, Malaysia
June 30, 2009

Baby orang utans rescued


KUALA LUMPUR: Three baby orang utans believed to be part of a smuggled group of five animals were confiscated from the Taiping Zoo and a private ostrich breeder in Klang recently by the Department of Wildlife and National Park (Perhilitan).

The raid on the zoo came about after the private ostrich breeder in Klang, who was keeping one of the five baby orang utans, revealed the matter to Perhilitan enforcers.

It is learnt that Perhilitan is searching for the remaining two babies.

Confirming this, Perhilitan’s deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir said the zoo was raided after a tip-off.

“All orang utans at the zoo are microchipped but these specimens were without microchips, hence we are able to ascertain that they are of dubious origin,” she said, adding that they were also without official papers.

As the orang utan is a totally protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 as well as prohibited from international trade for its status as an Appendix I species on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), keeping the animal is only possible with a special permit from Perhilitan.

Following the high-profile expose of the smuggling of about a dozen of orang utans from Indonesia in 2005, Perhilitan took an inventory of all orang utans held by private and public zoos to show its commitment to stemming out trafficking in the endangered species.

Orang utan, the sole Asian ape, is only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Three sub-species of the genus Pongo pygmaeus are distributed in Borneo while Sumatra is home to Pongo abelii.

Misliah also said DNA samples of the two apes were taken to determine their origins and to facilitate further investigation and prosecution.

The confiscated orang utans are being held at Perhilitan’s temporary shelter in Cheras and are said to be healthy.

The Taiping Zoo officials could not be reached for comments.