Joseph Dimetri
Joseph Dimetri campaign leader

Illegal Trade will kill our man of the forest off for good!

Around 1000 orang-utans are being killed each year so that their babies can be traded as pets, leaving the primate species on the brink of survival, the WWF warns in a new report.

The orang-utan - meaning "man of the forest" in Malay - is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. They are already under severe threat due to intensive logging of their habitat - over 90% of the species were wiped out during the last century.

Orang-utans are now the most expensive primates for sale in Indonesian markets - the babies are kept as household status symbols or traded for use in the entertainment industry. Once they reach adulthood, many are killed or abandoned, says the report.

It has been illegal to hunt or trade in orang-utans since 1931, but the study by WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, discovered that fewer than 10% of people found in illegal possession of the apes were prosecuted.

Christian Thompson, species officer for WWF, called on the Indonesian judiciary and police to enforce the existing laws to protect the remaining 40,000 to 55,000 orang-utans. "The solutions are clear - we need better enforcement of the law to protect orang-utans and gibbons from being captured and traded illegally. Bird markets need to be monitored stringently, and a wide-scale education campaign needs to be launched in Indonesia to raise awareness about this appalling trade," he says.

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