Caged orangutan discovered at Indonesian politician’s home
- The Langkat district chief had an illegal pet orangutan, authorities say.
- The politician is just the latest in a long line of public officials who guard protected species.
- Authorities also found dozens of people in iron-barred cells in the house who were allegedly forced to work on the politician’s palm oil plantation, prompting calls for an investigation into whether they were subjected to “modern slavery”.
MEDAN, Indonesia — A politician arrested for corruption last month in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province also kept several rare animals as illegal pets, including a caged orangutan, making him the country’s latest official. from heavily forested Southeast Asia. be captured with protected species in his home.
Terbit Rencana Perangin Angin, the elected leader of Langkat district in North Sumatra, was initially accused of accepting bribes related to the purchase of goods and services, but when investigators from the national anti-corruption agency raided his home, they found the animals.
Besides the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), there was a Sulawesi crested macaque (black macaca), two Bali starlings (Leucopsar rothschildi) — all three species are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN — along with a crested eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) and two common mynas (Gracula religiosa).
The orangutan was taken to a quarantine and rehabilitation center run by the nonprofit Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, while the other animals were taken to the Sibolangit Animal Rescue Center (PPS) run by the government.
Terbit is part of a long line of public officials convicted of keeping an illegal pet. In October, a Bali district chief handed over a baby gibbon to conservation authorities after a video he posted on Instagram of him playing with the endangered animal went viral.
In Indonesia, keeping a protected species as a pet is punishable by up to five years in prison under the 1990 Conservation Act. But in practice, the perpetrators – who observers say are often government officials or law enforcement officers – are rarely, if ever, prosecuted.
Read more: The military family that kept a pet orangutan in Indonesia
No public official has ever been prosecuted for keeping a protected animal, according to Ode Kalashnikov, head of the wildlife protection unit for International Animal Rescue, another nonprofit in Indonesia.
“The presence of protected animals at the Langkat Chief proves that there are still unscrupulous officials and community leaders to keep protected animals,” said Panut Hadisiswoyo, head of the Orangutan Information Center, a non-profit organization based in Medan.
Also during the raid, authorities found dozens of people in iron-barred cells at Terbit’s home who were allegedly forced to work on his palm oil plantation, prompting calls for an investigation to find out. if they were subjected to “modern slavery”. Terbit said the men living in the cells were drug addicts in voluntary rehabilitation.
See related: Raid on Sumatran Official Reveals Use of Slave Labor at Palm Oil Plantation
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