Friday, February 24, 2006

King now asked to intervene in Orangutan case Thailand

Photo of Orangutans at Safari World Bangkok 2004-- an endangered specie snatched from the jungle and forced to perform in some kind of 'Thai kickboxing' show for gullible tourists. Really illustrates the cretinous mentality so common here.

letter appearing in The Nation:

While bureaucrats shuffle their feet, endangered apes are left to die in Thailand

The article on the confiscated orang-utans shows that many people worldwide are still following the case of the smuggled apes, although within Thailand there seems to be hardly any interest in this scandal. [ed. little surprise there-- Thais are notoriously blase about human and animal rights issues ] This case is considered the world’s biggest illegal wildlife case involving great apes. It has been almost two years since the owner of Safari World confessed to the illegal possession of the orang-utans to the commander of the Forestry Police, Major-General Sawaek Pinsinchai, and almost 1,000 days since the initial raid on Safari World [ed. in Bangkok].

It is a complete mystery as to what will happen to the confiscated apes. Will they be returned to Indonesia as stipulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) of which Thailand is a signatory; or will they end up in substandard zoos around the country to attract visitors? Strangely enough, five have recently been “borrowed” by the Chiang Mai Night Safari and another five given to the Lop Buri Zoo.

Soon, there will be only a few, if any, left to repatriate; over the last two years, more than 22 of the 75 orang-utans have died or disappeared from both Safari World and wildlife slaughterhouses in Saraburi and Sai Noi district of Nonthaburi.

The deputy-general of the Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants (DNP) claims to be working closely with his Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts on this matter, yet the Cites office in Jakarta says they posted their demand to return the apes more than a year ago and have received no response, despite issuing import permits for repatriation.

Over the past 10 years, the illegal trade in wildlife has grown exponentially throughout Thailand. DNP and forestry officials have been aware for several years that Safari World was collecting orang-utans in large numbers and did not act on any complaints. Her Majesty the Queen asked for a crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade on her birthday, August 12, 2003, following which Maj-General Sawaek undertook a raid on the zoos and slaughterhouses, uncovering this scandal further. Yet in late 2004, the director-general of the DNP informed the Forestry Police commander that he felt no laws had been broken, and the orang-utans should stay with Safari World. If more time is lost, help will be too late for the orang-utan babies.

[ed. it should be noted that after the initial raid on Safari World, 41 of 110 orangutans 'disappeared' and were claimed dead by the parks' owner. It is presumed that they were killed or moved to prevent DNA testing which would have conclusively established their Indonesian origin and illegal importation by Safari World into Thailand]

Edwin Wiek

Director and founder, Wildlife Friends of Thailand; Thailand representative, cross-border trade in orang-utans, Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation