After 5 and half hours on a Indonesian military airplane the WFFT Team and 14 orangutans arrived safely in Indonesia. Here are some images taken during the flight home. Previous story and images can be found here http://bit.ly/1kTRoth
Edwin and the team are currently flying to Jakarta, Indonesia to return 14 orangutans back to their homeland. WFFT has been campaigning for them to be repatriated since they were smuggled into Thailand almost a decade ago. All at WFFT are delighted to see them finally return home. The official event was a spectacle with officials from various governmental organisations, NGO’s and the regions biggest media channels. It’s great to see Thailand and Indonesia working together and we hope this is one of many collaborations that will stamp out the illegal trade of wildlife. After the ceremony the orangutans were loaded onto an Indonesian military plane with a team of carers and vets from the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Thailand’s Department of National Parks. Representatives from each of these organisations will accompany them throughout the journey. Upon arrival the orangutans will be quarantined at a safari park and then hopefully moved onto rehabilitation facilities with the end goal of being released back to the wild. We will keep you updated on their journey. A great big thank you goes out to all involved in the repatriation of these orangutans.
The time is almost here for 14 confiscated orangutans to finally be returned home to Indonesia. The animals have been held for almost 7 years after being confiscated from private zoos in southern Thailand. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, founded by Edwin Wiek, have campaigned heavily, fighting for their repatriation and return home for many years. Wednesday will be an immense day for both the orangutans and the WFFT team who will be monitoring the orangutans throughout their journey. We are extremely happy to soon be waving them off to their homelands. Please see previous articles and press releases below. Updates will follow soon.
WFFT Press Release 27/8/15 http://bit.ly/1QoKU1Y
Edwin Wiek – Special to The Nation 2/6/12 http://bit.ly/1MGFOrX
11 Orangutans rescued from private zoo
By The Nation. Published on 23/2/09 http://bit.ly/1MurUNR
The orang-utans at the private zoo in Southern Thailand
At the DNP Centre waiting to go home
Treatment and rehabilitation a success!
After one week of treatment and rehabilitation we have returned 48 pangolins back to the wild last night, on several secret locations. The WFFT/LWRC wildlife rescue team joined Lao government law enforcement officials on a mission to return the freedom to these magnificent animals.
One week ago Lao forestry officials and police arrested a Thai man with 81 pangolins that were smuggled from Thailand into Laos. Most of the pangolins were in bad shape; dehydrated, hungry, stressed and overall weak. Our team offered to care for the poor animals and fought for days to rescue as many as possible. Two days ago we found 48 of the pangolins strong enough to be released back into the wild, with 17 deceased.
Pangolins are very hard to care for and in most cases less than 20% survive this kind of an ordeal. It is believed that this “shipment” of pangolins originated from Sumatra Indonesia, and was destined for China, where these highly endangered wild animals would be eaten by the rich and corrupted, while their scales would be used as traditional Chinese medicine.
Laos and Thailand are major gateways for the illegal wildlife trade between South-east Asia and Africa with China and Vietnam. WFFT is currently discussing ways to assist more often with confiscations of wildlife with authorities in Laos in the future.
You can support our work in Thailand and Laos by donating towards our mobile wildlife rescue teams.
Large confiscation of pangolins arrive at WFFT / Lao Wildlife Rescue Centre
Yesterday Laos PDR enforcement officials confiscated 81 pangolins at a checkpoint on the border between Thailand and Laos. As the Laos Wildlife Rescue is the only multi-species wildlife rescue center in Laos PDR the officials contacted our team for help in the care and rehabilitation of these critically endangered animals. Upon arrival many of the pangolins were found to be very weak after being smuggled for days maybe even weeks in small sacks, sadly one already dead on arrival. It is often hard to instantly assess the health of such a large shipment of animals, particularly pangolins. Both our LWRC vet team and WFFT vet team are currently working around the clock to provide the best care possible for these unfortunate victims of the illegal wildlife trade.
The Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) is listed by the ICUN Red List as Critically Endangered (CR) and listed in CITES Appendix II, due to high levels of hunting and poaching for its meat and scales, the population of this species is declining throughout its range. The species is widely distributed geographically, occurring across mainland and island Southeast East Asia. In Lao PDR the Sunda pangolin is listed in the ‘Prohibition’ category of its Wildlife and Aquatic Law 2007, as a rare, near extinct, high value or species of special importance in the development of socio-economic, environmental, educational and scientific research.
It is likely that the confiscated animals have been poached in the Southern Southeast Asian Islands (Sumatra, Indonesia being the propable origin), then smuggled by boat over the sea to Malaysia and then onwards though Thailand and into Laos PDR. Both Lao PDR and Thailand play key roles as transit countries for the illegal trade in live wild animals from Southeast Asia to East Asia for international trade to China and Vietnam. Researchers at the IUCN state that over 1 million pangolins have been caught over the last decade, which makes them the most illegally traded endangered mammal in the world. The increased demand for pangolins and their body parts has seen prices surge from 13 US$ per Kg of scales in 1990s to more than 500 USD today. The illegal trade in pangolins is estimated to be worth about US$19bn a year.
Pangolins are the only mammal in the world that are completely covered (except their bellies) in scales. They are solitary, nocturnal and very secretive so many mysteries remain about their biology and behaviour. Pangolins live predominantly on a diet of ants and termites, which they may supplement with various other invertebrates including bee larvae, flies, worms, earthworms, and crickets. This specialist diet makes them extremely difficult to maintain in captivity. We are seeking assistance from experts in the field on the care of these enigmatic creatures.
The culprits of this illicit crime are currently in custody, we are hopeful that justice will prevail, with heavy fines and jailterms. For now these animals are being monitored around the clock, we are hopeful that many will be returned back to the wild in the coming weeks.
Will this species be killed and eaten to extinction in our lifetime? We sure hope not. We will keep you updated on the progress of these endearing creatures.
14 ORANG-UTANS TO BE RETURNED TO INDONESIA
14 orangutans to be repatriated from Thailand to Indonesia.
THE REAL STORY
Over the last 48 hours many stories have been posted by several media outlets on the repatriation of 14 orangutans that were smuggled into Thailand in 2007 and 2008. The Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand wishes to respond to some errors in news stories and to reply to some concerns issued by wildlife conservation organizations and public zoos.
One of the 14 orangutans “Fook” was found by Edwin Wiek of the WFFT in 2007 in a private zoo resort called “Kaengpheka” in Chumporn Province. After weeks of pushing authorities to have her confiscated she was taken away from the zoo, but the owner was not charged with illegal wildlife possession. In late 2008 twelve more orangutans were found by Edwin Wiek, this time at the “Phuket Crocodile Farm and Tiger Zoo” on Phuket island. An official complaint was send (see attachment) to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNP) in December 2008, but no action was taken until a repeat complaint was send in early February 2009. Within days after this complaint was send, with copies to the Nation Newspaper, the head of wildlife conservation of region 5 (South Thailand) Mr Vitthaya, called Edwin Wiek and told him he confiscated 12 orangutans from the accused Phuket zoo.
Edwin Wiek asked right after the arrest and confiscation for a copy of the police report, but after 4 weeks waiting and not seeing anything, went to visit the commander of Phuket province police, asking for more details. Edwin was then informed that there was not police report, legal case or investigation ongoing. The police was not aware of any crime.
After confronting Mr Vitthaya by phone, he confessed that he did not wish to charge the zoo owners with illegal possession of the orangutans as they were “influential people” and he considered the crime not really a serious issue. He further noted that he officially declared to his superiors in Bangkok that the 12 orangutans were found in cages along the highway instead, without knowing the owner(s). The orangutans were transported to the wildlife breeding centre of the DNP in Ratchaburi province in the second week of 2009, to be kept there awaiting further steps, obviously not a legal process.
The WFFT has campaigned over the last few years for the start of legal proceedings against the owners of the zoo, for the following reasons;
1. A conviction by the court would have sped up the repatriation by many years, and would reduce the costs of care. An early return of the orangutans would have given them a decent chance to be released back to the wild in Indonesia. After 6 years of capture most of them are now too old.
2. The owners could, once convicted, be not only punished for their crime but also held responsible for all cost arisen from confiscation, care and repatriation in a civil court case.
3. WFFT believes that all cases of poaching, smuggling, trade and possession of protected wildlife should be taken to court as stipulated by Thai law and international treaties such as CITES. Neglect of the law will only result in increase of protected wildlife crimes.
4. The apes ending up in commercial zoos would have been inevitable if they would not be send back home.
In 2013/2014 several commercial zoos in Thailand and wildlife traders had shown interest in purchasing the 14 orangutans for breeding programs and display in Thai zoos and entertainment parks. For exactly this reason we have campaigned very hard in the last 12 months for repatriation of the orangutans. Once the caught from the wild apes would have ended up in local zoos, our 7 year long campaign would have been for nothing and traders would see a good reason to import more illegally caught wildlife such as orangutans.
We wish to express our outmost gratitude to the director-general of the Department of National Parks Dr. Niphon Chotibal and the director of wildlife conservation office Mrs Tuenjai Noochdamrong for their speedy approval to return the orangutan to the Indonesian authorities. Their decision has send a clear message to wildlife smugglers and zoos in Thailand that smuggled apes will never end up in the trade again.
We further thank the Indonesian for not giving up on the apes and politely urge them to find a suitable solution for these 14 victims of the illegal wildlife trade once they return back home. We hope the President of Indonesia will use this example to further strengthen the fight against the decline of orangutans in the wild, with stiff penalties for anyone poaching, trading or possessing orangutans and/or other protected wild animals. I am asking for help of orangutan conservation NGO’s in Indonesia and abroad to join our campaign for a better future of these 14 orangutans.
-The orangutans were not found along the highway, but originated from a Phuket zoo.
-The owners of the zoo were never charged with illegal possession of protected wild animals.
-The cost of care of 3 million baht care would not have occurred if the law was enforced from the start.
A legal case would have sped up the release back to Indonesia with at least 5 years.
-CITES stipulated clearly that member states should enforce local wildlife laws and CITES regulations as well as cooperate (article 8) on repatriation of confiscated wildlife.
-Of the 14 orangutans, 13 are Bornean orangutans and one is an extremely rare Sumatran orangutan. Two are offspring of the original confiscated orangutans, one of the orangutans has died two years go.
WFFT will petition the minister to change/scrap the law on keeping live plants/animals for a minimum period of 5 years, and take the conservation and animal welfare into consideration instead.
Thai law stipulates that illegal good/animals found need to be kept for 5 years, in case an owner shows up and claims these goods/animals. In this case however it was clear from the beginning that these orangutans belonged to one particular zoo in Phuket.
a personal note:
I wish to apologize to the orangutans that it took this long, that you guys had to go through all this trouble and misery for so many years. I have fought many years for your return, and I promise I will follow up on your progress once you are back home again.
Founder and director
Contact details or media and press:
Founder and director WFFT
Email: [email protected]
Original complaint letter to authorities in 2008/2009 (PDF)
complaint phuket zoo orangutans dec2008 (click for download or viewing)
This press release as PDF
PRESS RELEASE Orangutans Thailand August 2015
KHONKAEN, THAILAND: Thai police said today they have seized five wild tiger cubs along with hundreds of other animals being smuggled to neighbouring Laos, for apparent onward sale in Vietnam or China as delicacies.
Highway officers on Wednesday stopped a pick-up truck in the northeast which was apparently headed for the Laotian border, a policeman told AFP. A search revealed the endangered tiger cubs, all of them around a month old. There were also hundreds of other creatures including monitor lizards and turtles, he said, adding traffickers use Thailand as a transit point to Laos and then to buyers in lucrative Asian markets.
“The final destination is either Vietnam or China where they like to eat these animals,” according to Captain Pornchai Sangsila. The tigers will normally be kept in Laos for one year to be raised before being sold on.”
Two Thai men have been charged with illegal possession of protected animals.
Television showed footage from Wednesday night of the baby tigers cradled by handlers and being bottle-fed milk. Under international law the trade in tigers and tiger parts is strictly banned, except for non-commercial reasons such as scientific research.
Thailand is one of just 13 countries hosting fragile tiger populations — estimated at fewer than 300 in the wild — and is a hub of international smuggling. Worldwide, tiger numbers are estimated to have fallen to only 3,200 from about 100,000 a century ago.
Wildlife experts say the kingdom is also a globally significant trade hub for turtles and tortoises and have urged authorities to do more to arrest and prosecute high-level smugglers.
Note from Edwin, founder of WFFT: “It seems that again this shipment was on the way to the Thakhek wildlife “safe house” that we photographed by drone last year. This is a wellknown place for wild animals to be kept to strengthen for the next part of their trip to Vietnam and China. For the complete drone photo please visit this link http://www.wfft.org/wildlife-general/panoramo/ (opens in a new page)
I strongly believe the tiger cubs are NOT wild tigers, they originate from a tiger farm or temple instead.
ตร.ทางหลวงขอนแก่น จับกุมขบวนการค้าสัตว์ป่าข้ามชาติ มีลูกเสือโคร่งจำนวน 5 ตัว พร้อมตะกวด ตะพาบ และเต่าจำนวนมาก
วันที่ 20 ก.พ.57 ตำรวจทางหลวง ส.ทล.2กก. 4 บก.ทล.ได้ร่วมกันออกตรวจในเขตรับผิดชอบ เพื่ออำนวยความด้านการจราจร และป้องกันปราบปรามอาชญากรรม บนทางหลวง ที่บริเวณถนนมิตรภาพขาออก ช่วงหลักกิโลเมตรที่ 373-374 ต.น้ำพอง อ.น้ำพอง จ.ขอนแก่น ใกล้ป้อมตำรวจทางหลวงน้ำพอง ได้สังเกตเห็นรถยนต์กระบะ หมายเลขทะเบียน ถฮ 7608 กรุงเทพมหานคร บรรทุกเสริมคอกด้านข้าง บรรทุกสิ่งของมาเต็มคันรถโดยมีผ้าใบคลุมปิดทับอย่างมิดชิด และมีลักษณะแสดงพิรุธชะลอรถอย่างรวดเร็วอย่างกระทันหันคล้ายจะจอดรถ เมื่อมองเห็นเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจ
จึงได้ส่งสัญญาณให้หยุด และขอตรวจค้นโดยมีนายพิษณุ เนตรสว่าง อายุ 36 ปี อยู่ บ้านเลขที่ 92/4 ม.7 ต.ลาดใหญ่ อ.เมือง จ.สมุทรสงคราม และมีนายจักรพันธ์ คำโคตรรสูนย์ อายุ 22 ปีอยู่บ้านเลขที่ 79 ม.12 ต.นาตาล อ.ท่าคันโท จ.กาฬสินธุ์ นั่งเบาะหน้าคู่คนขับ เมื่อตรวจค้นภายในห้องโดยสารภายในพบตะกร้าพลาสติกสีส้มและสีฟ้า 3 ใบ เมื่อเปิดดูพบลูกเสือโคร่งนอนขดตัวอยู่นับรวมได้จำนวน 5 ตัว อายุประมาณไม่ถึง 1 เดือน
และเมื่อเปิดดูผ้าใบที่ปิดคลุมกระบะพบลังพลาสติกสีฟ้า เขียนข้างกล่องว่า อ้วน – นกอัดแน่นภายในจำนวน 53 ลัง เมื่อเปิดลังดูพบมีตัวตะกวดอยู่ในถุงตาข่ายสีฟ้า จำนวน 312 ตัว และยังมีกระสอบป่านจำนวน 17 กระสอบ เมื่อเปิดดูพบเต่าจำนวน 174 ตัวตะพาบ 11 ตัว ผู้ต้องหาทั้งสองคนรับสารภาพว่า ได้รับการว่าจ้างจากเจ๊น้อยเป็นเงินจำนวน 20,000 บาท ให้ทำน้าที่ขับรถโดยไปรับรถยนต์ที่จัดของเรียบร้อยแล้ว จากอ.บางประอิน จ.พระนครศรีอยุธยา เพื่อไปส่งให้ชายไม่ทราบชื่อโดยนัดหมายส่งของที่ปั๊มปตท.ในเมืองบึงกาฬ แต่สุดท้ายถูกตำรวจทางหลวงจับกุมตัวได้ก่อน
เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจทางหลวงจึงได้ควบคุมตัวก่อนส่งพนักงานสอบสวน สภ.น้ำพอง เพื่อดำเนินคดีตามกฎหมายในข้อหาร่วมกันครอบครองซึ่งสัตว์ป่าสงวนและคุ้มครองโดยผิดกฎหมาย ตาม พ.ร.บ.สงวนและคุ้มครองสัตว์ป่า พ.ศ.2535
ลูกเสือที่ถูกตรวจยึดได้มีมูลค่าตัวละ 200,000 บาท โดย หากถูกนำขายไปยังประเทศเพื่อนบ้านจะมีมูลค่าถึง 400,000 บาท ซึ่งเสือเป็นสัตว์ที่ประเทศจีนและเวียดนามกำลังต้องการนำไปบริโภค โดยจะมีกลุ่มขบวนการค้าสัตว์ป่าประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน นำไปเลี้ยงเมื่อตัวโตจะนำไปจำหน่ายต่อในราคาตัวละ 1 ล้านบาท
สำหรับลูกเสือที่ตรวจยึดได้ทั้ง 5 ตัว มี 1 ตัวมีอากาป่วย สัตวแพทย์ได้นำไปพักฟื้นที่โรงพยาบาลสัตว์ขอนแก่น จากนั้นทางสำนักบริหารพื้นที่อนุรักษ์ที่ 8 นำลูกเสือทั้งหมดและตะกวดไปส่งที่สถานีเพาะพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าภูเขียว และสำหรับตะพาบและเต่าทั้งหมดจะนำไปส่งที่สถานีเพาะเลี้ยงสัตว์ป่าเขาสวนกวาง
Illegal wildlife traders in Thailand get “busted” and go on with “business as usual”
By Edwin Wiek / WFFT founder
On Monday the 10th of June 2013 police again raided a house of a known and earlier arrested wildlife trader on the outskirts of Bangkok. Just like a year ago in Sraburi province, police found about 300 protected and endangered wild animals, such as lions, baboons, other monkeys, lorises, turtles, civets, meerkats and lots of other exotic wildlife.
Police invited the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNP) on their raid to this house in Khlong Sam Wa area of Bangkok, expecting them to confiscate and remove all wildlife from the illegal traders “Safe house”, but things did not turn out this way, just as it didn’t a year ago in Sraburi with the other previously known wildlife trader. The DNP only removed one leopard cat, a juvenile hornbill and a few turtles. Why?
Thailand is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and actually hosted the last conference of the parties a few months ago in Bangkok. Thailand however fails to protect wildlife species from abroad, the “foreign” wildlife species, as they like to call it. It basically means that endangered wild animals found without paperwork recently such as lions, chimpanzees, orangutans, red pandas and so on, do not find any protection under Thailand’s local laws and enforcement.
Just like with the raided wildlife safe house in Sraburi last year we expect to see no further legal action or a push for prosecution in the case of Montri, the owner of the raided house in Sam Wa. Montri was said to be arrested yesterday, however police have not arrested him yet, nor have charges been laid against him till now, as he is given at least a week time to produce his evidence and paperwork. Montri will actually only have to hand over some papers for the found Thai wildlife species, which were only a handful. As Montri is a good friend of an official who handed out permits in 2003 during the wildlife amnesty, we are sure he can produce sufficient paperwork for these few animals. The other 300 wild animals that are not of Thai origin will remain probably in his possession or be sold on quickly to get them out of sight, just as happened with all “confiscated” wildlife in the Sraburi raid last year. It is of course an embarrassment to authorities to see such a large number of illegally traded wild animals in one home near Bangkok, but as the animals were not caught being traded over the border red-handed there is little that can be done without any political will and urgent needed law changes.
WFFT is drafting the urgently needed law changes for a parliamentary committee on law to be taken in to consideration, this includes a proposal to INCLUDE wild animals to animal welfare laws, which is currently opposed by DNP and the Zoo associations of Thailand. We sympathize with the DNP for not wanting to take the burden of the care of so many foreign wild animals that might have little to no conservation value to Thailand, however it must be said that without confiscation, heavy fines and jail sentences the illegal wildlife trade can’t be stopped, the profits are high while the current penalties won’t scare anyone off, to the contrary wildlife trade is more than lucrative right now.
Thailand should include all endangered wildlife, local and foreign, under the same protection laws, as stipulated by the CITES agreement signed over 20 years ago, thereby honoring an international agreement to protect the biodiversity of our world.
—On a personal note I would like to stress that it extremely stressful for us to see that these wildlife traders get up to a week or more to produce paperwork and no animals are moved out at all, while our foundation was raided last year with only less then 3 hours time given to get paperwork presented, and the DNP started to take animals heavy-handed within 24 hours. Luckely the head of the DNP of that time is now retired and almost forgotten, but the double standard has been set.
Confiscated ivory and other wildlife (parts) stolen and sold on!
We often read news stories on arrests of wildlife traffickers and confiscations of protected wildlife and their parts. But what happens after? What happens to the criminals involved and will they face jail-terms or other serious punishment? What happens to the animals confiscated? Where do the animals parts such as rhino horns, ivory, skins, scales and bones go?
This table above shows the results of an investigation by us early 2012 and a three page article and documentary of ASTV on the subject. The table shows how confiscated wildlife and their parts get through the airport security and customs in most cases, but eventually still ends up on the illegal market as it is “Stolen” or “disappears” from government warehouses for confiscated goods.
107 pangolins confiscated at Thailand-Laos border left to die
Thai Royal Navy officers arrested 2 men from Southern Thailand (Songkhla province) who were unloading 107 pangolins (an endangered and protected wild animal) from their car onto a long tail boat on the Mekong river, dividing Thailand and Laos. The men acted suspicious once they arrived at the village near Nongkhai city and were found to have false number plates on their car. The car originated from Songkhla, but plates on the care belonged to another vehicle registered in Bangkok. Once arrested and interrogated by the Navy marines they confessed they transported the pangolins from the Thai-Malaysian border to Nongkhai.
The Thai navy who monitors the border against the smuggling of wildlife, dogs, people, weapons and drugs told Edwin Wiek who was present at the location that they take the smuggling of dogs and wildlife out of Thailand into Laos very serious as according to their findings the trade has completely gone out of control. Rampant corruption at several government levels and the low priority at political level make the illegal wildlife trade the most lucrative illegal trade ever right now.
The 107 pangolins were handed over to police within 3 hours, but were left uncared for at the police station for over 29 hours, the traders were bailed out long before that. The animals were not picked up by relevant authorities such as Livestock Department or the Department of National Parks (DNP) for two nights, luckily the Thai Navy officers returned to the police station at times to water and cool down the poor animals. Staff of WFFT and dog rescue groups were not allowed to assist with the medical or any other care. Over 40 pangolins died within the 29 hours at the police station. It is until now unclear where the remaining live animals were taken.
Pangolins are illegally traded within South-East Asia as they are in high demand in China. For live animals a price of up to 2500 Baht per kilo is paid, for their scales up to 8,000 baht per kilo is paid within Laos, before taking them to China.
Photos courtesy of Royal Thai Navy / Major Garan