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Sir David Attenborough backs campaign for return of smuggled orangutans

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  • Michelle Desilets
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2006
      Embargo: 00:00 25 March 2006
      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 Indonesia’s 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
      Secretary General
      CITES Secretariat
      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 Indonesia’s 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.
      Yours sincerely,

      Sean Whyte
      Chief Executive
      Nature Alert

      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 Concern
      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
      Nature Alert
      One Voice, France
      Orang Utan Republik Education Initiative (USA and Indonesia)
      ProAnimalia International
      ProFauna Indonesia
      ProFauna UK
      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)

      Michelle Desilets
      BOS UK
      "Primates Helping Primates"

      Please sign our petition to rescue over 100 smuggled orangutans in Thailand:

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