Baby orang­utans res­cued in Thai po­lice sting

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

BANGKOK: Thai po­lice res­cued two baby orang­utans in a sting op­er­a­tion af­ter un­der­cover of­fi­cers ar­ranged to buy the pri­mates over a mo­bile phone messaging app from wildlife traf­fick­ers for nearly $20,000, of­fi­cials said. An anonymous tip alerted po­lice to an on­line ad­ver­tise­ment for the en­dan­gered an­i­mals, who are less than one year old and the size of in­fants. Po­lice then posed as in­ter­ested buy­ers and con­tacted the seller over What­sApp, ac­cord­ing to deputy na­tional park di­rec­tor Adis­orn Noochdum­rong. “They agreed to buy the two orang­utans for 700,000 baht ($19,400) and trans­ferred a 100,000 baht down pay­ment to a bank ac­count that be­longs to a Thai man,” he told AFP.

The un­der­cover of­fi­cers ar­ranged to pick up the baby apes out­side a Bangkok su­per­mar­ket on De­cem­ber 21, where the or­ange-furred crea­tures were de­liv­ered by a city taxi driver. The driver was ar­rested but cleared af­ter au­thor­i­ties de­ter­mined he was not part of the smug­gling gang, ac­cord­ing to wildlife po­lice of­fi­cer Anothorn Srithong­bai. “As far as the real traf­ficker goes, that’s still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he added. Orang­utans are na­tive to Malaysia and In­done­sia but they are of­ten il­le­gally smug­gled through­out South­east Asia, ei­ther for pri­vate zoos or as pets.

Thai­land has long served as a tran­sit hub for con­tra­band wildlife prod­ucts bound for ma­jor mar­kets like Viet­nam and China. Counter-traf­fick­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion Free­land, which as­sisted with the orang­utan res­cue, said the at­tempted sale was linked to a “ma­jor re­gional crim­i­nal syn­di­cate” in­volved in the lu­cra­tive il­le­gal wildlife trade. So­cial me­dia has be­come an in­te­gral tool for such gangs to set up sales, said Matthew Pritch­ett from Free­land. “This case is one link in a much larger chain,” he added. —AFP

—AFP

BANGKOK: This hand­out shows an in­fant orang­utan at an an­i­mal clinic res­cued dur­ing a sting op­er­a­tion in Bangkok.

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