Sir David Attenborough backs campaign for return of smuggled orangutans
- PRESS RELEASE
Embargo: 00:00 25 March 2006
CITES CALLED ON TO BRING SANCTIONS AGAINST
THAILAND, MALAYSIA, CAMBODIA and SAUDI ARABIA
FOR ORANGUTAN SMUGGLING
Legendary wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and distinguished conservationist Dr Richard Leakey, have joined forces with 40 conservation groups, representing tens of millions of people throughout the world, calling on CITES Secretary General Mr Willem Wijnstekers to implement sanctions against these countries who are blatantly disregarding the spirit, if not the rules, of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species.
In a letter faxed earlier this week to the Secretary General and other CITES officials, the campaigners call for CITES to uphold Indonesias request for the return of over a hundred orangutans known to be smuggled to destinations worldwide, including Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Saudi Arabia.
Illegally obtained CITES Appendix 1 protected orangutans are currently being abused, humiliated and tortured to satisfy the greed of unscrupulous dealers and zoo owners, whilst CITES authorities in each of the countries have refused to take any action.
Despite repeated requests to do so, all four countries have ignored requests from Indonesia for illegally traded orangutans to be returned immediately to their country of origin.
Sean Whyte, coordinator of the Born to be Wild campaign to have these orangutans returned says, The smuggling of highly endangered orangutans is an appalling activity. Any country which condones this trade deserves to have sanctions brought against it by CITES, which up to now has shown little interest in doing so
For further information contact Sean Whyte: sw@...
Tel: + 44 + 1225 + 444929 (England)
or Michelle Desilets, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation 9UK)
Email: info@... Tel: + 44 (0)1296 640542
CITES contact: Stephen V. Nash, CITES Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel. No. (41 22) 917-8143 Fax No. (41 22) 797-3417
e-mail: stephen.nash@... Web site: www.cites.org
In Thailand, there are 56 + orangutans proven to have been illegally imported. After three years all that has happened is, a number of orangutans have died in captivity, some have been sold and recently five were borrowed by a new zoo in Chang Mai. At least a further 22 orangutans were sold or given to the Koh Kong Safari World in Cambodia.
In Malaysia, following intense pressure, six orangutans were returned to Sumatra in December 2005. A further Sumatran orangutan has still to be repatriated to Sumatra.
In Cambodia, some 22 orangutans were illegally imported in, it is believed, 2003. The government of Cambodia has fined the park owner but the orangutans have remained in the zoo where they are being forced to perform clown-like tricks in front of visitors.
In Saudi Arabia, a lone baby orangutan was confiscated from a pet shop in June 2005. It has never been seen since. The Saudi Arabian authorities refuse all requests for information. A recent, unverified report suggests this orangutan may have been given to a member of the Saudi Royal family.
The BBC will shortly begin filming Orangutan Diary at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project, Central Kalimantan, for a new series of programmes focussing on the history and daily lives of individual animals. The programmes will be shown daily on prime time BBC for one week in January 2007. Similar programmes have been made on elephants and lions. Anticipated UK viewing figures are nine million per night. The programmes will then be syndicated worldwide, reaching an audience in the tens of millions.
If any country currently holding illegally obtained orangutans ever wanted to obtain favourable publicity for returning them to Indonesia, there could be no better time than now - the filming begins in April.
Copy of fax:
25th March 2006
Mr. Willem Wijnstekers
International Environment House
15, chemin des Anemones
CH-1219 Chatelaine Geneva
Dear Mr. Wijnstekers,
Illegal Trade in Orangutans.
You will be aware of orangutans having been illegally imported into Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Can you please explain to us why CITES has not enforced sanctions against any of the countries concerned for their continued refusal to return the orangutans to their country of origin?
In every case there is not the slightest doubt concerning the illegality of the animals concerned.
We look to CITES to demonstrate its full powers and bring to an end the continued imprisonment and exploitation of these great apes.
We all support Indonesias request (copy letter attached) for the orangutans in question to be returned, and we look to the Secretariat to represent the interests of Indonesia as a member of CITES.
On behalf of the under-mentioned organisations, representing millions of supporters.
Sir David Attenborough
Dr Richard Leakey
Professor Colin Groves, School of Archaeology & Anthropology, Australian National University
David J. Chivers, M.A., Ph.D., Sc.D.
University Reader in Primate Biology and Conservation
Head, Wildlife Research Group, University of Cambridge
Advocates for Animals
Animal Defenders International
AWELY, des animaux et des homes, France
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Australia
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Canada
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Denmark
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation France
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Germany
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation Indonesia
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK
Centre for Great Apes (USA)
Ecological Internet, Inc. (USA)
EDEV - Stichting Een DIER Een VRIEND (Holland)
Environmental Investigation Agency
Fans for Nature (Germany)
Friends of the Earth Malaysia(FOEM)/Sahabat Alam Malaysia(SAM)
The Gibbon Foundation
Indonesian Society for Animal Welfare (ISAW)
Institut Jane Goodall France
International Primate Protection League
International Primate Protection League (UK)
International Wildlife Coalition (USA)
International Wildlife Coalition Trust (UK)
The Living Rainforest
The Masarang Foundation
One Voice, France
Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (USA and Indonesia)
Rainforest Information Centre (Australia)
RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
The Schmutzer Primate Center
Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK
Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Project
Sumatran Orangutan Society Australia
Sumatran Orangutan Society New Zealand
Sumatran Orangutan Society Sumatra
Sumatran Orangutan Society UK
Sumatran Orangutan Society USA
The Thai Animals Guardians Association
Wildlife Friends of Thailand
WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals)
"Primates Helping Primates"
Please sign our petition to rescue over 100 smuggled orangutans in Thailand:
Yahoo! Messenger NEW - crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with voicemail
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]