Smuggled baby orang utans rescued by Thai police

Thai police have rescued two baby orang utans in a sting operation after undercover officers arranged to buy the primates over WhatsApp from wildlife traffickers for 700,000 baht (S$28,000). The endangered animals are less than a year old and are the
PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Thai police have rescued two baby orang utans in a sting operation after undercover officers arranged to buy the primates over WhatsApp from wildlife traffickers for 700,000 baht (S$28,000).

The endangered animals are less than a year old and are the size of infants.

Police posed as interested buyers and transferred a 100,000 baht down payment to a bank account belonging to a Thai man.

The primates were arranged to be picked up outside a Bangkok supermarket last Wednesday, and were delivered by a city taxi driver.

The driver was arrested but cleared after the authorities determined he was not part of the smuggling gang.

Orang utans are often illegally smuggled throughout South-east Asia.

Counter-trafficking organisation Freeland, which helped with the rescue, said the attempted sale was linked to a "major regional criminal syndicate" involved in the lucrative illegal wildlife trade.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 25, 2016, with the headline 'Smuggled baby orang utans rescued by Thai police'. Print Edition | Subscribe