Mount Leuser rangers again thwart attempt to sell infant orangutan

Rangers at Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) have successfully thwarted an attempt by poachers to smuggle a 1-year-old baby orangutan on Friday.

Palber Turnip, who heads the park's Bahorok V district, said that the poachers had abducted the infant orangutan from her mother and tried to sell her at an illegal market in Sei Musam village of Langkat regency, North Sumatra.

"After hearing about the incident, park rangers went to the [illegal] market and rescued the orangutan. The poachers, however, managed to escape," Palber told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said that the poachers fled immediately on seeing the park rangers entering the market. The rangers gave chase, but were unable to capture them.

"They left the baby orangutan in a cardboard box under an oil palm tree," Palber added.

"We reported the incident to the North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency [BKSDA], and the agency recommended that the baby orangutan be rehabilitated first before it was released back into the wild," he said.

"Since the orangutan is still young, we will quarantine her at the Batu Mbelin Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Sibolangit. She will be released back into the wild after receiving treatment," North Sumatra BKSDA head Hotmauli Sianturi said of the baby orangutan, who has been named "Hope".

TNGL rangers in January rescued two juvenile Sumatran orangutans from a poacher who allegedly planned to sell the apes.

A juvenile orangutan can sell for Rp 30 million (US$2,031) to Rp 50 million on the black market.

TNGL technical head Nurul Hadi said that the high price for the critically endangered species had caused an increase in the poaching of orangutans in the park.

"Most poachers seek baby or juvenile orangutans, as they are worth more than adults. This is a threat to orangutan sustainability. There are many young orangutans that have been hunted and sold overseas,” he said.