Four men went on trial in Borneo on February 8, accused of killing orangutans and other endangered primates for profit at a palm oil plantation.
Phuah Chuan Hun, manager of the plantation in East Kalimantan, and his employee, Widiantoro, paid two men to kill orangutans and proboscis monkeys, prosecutors claimed. They and the two alleged killers, Imam Muhtarom and Mujianto, face five years in prison if convicted.
According to news agency AFP, prosecutors allege the men were paid one million rupiah (USD $111) for each orangutan and 200,000 rupiah (USD $22) for other monkeys. The two used a 4.5-millimetre calibre airsoft gun to shoot the orangutans out of trees before their hunting dogs chased them.
Prosecutors claim Muhtarom and Mujianto would then club the orangutans with rocks or wooden sticks before binding their corpses and taking photographs as evidence.
Spanish soccer star Carles Puyol, who captains FC Barcelona and led Spain to the World Cup title one year ago, is now tackling an even bigger challenge – saving orangutans.
Puyol is featured in “Act Now for Orangutans,” a new campaign from the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and International Animal Rescue (IAR) that seeks to halt the orangutan’s dramatic slide towards extinction. Less than 66,000 wild orangutans are thought to remain in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra, and more than half of that population has been lost since 1950.
Puyol is the centrepiece of dramatic posters that state, “I Care – Do You?” and asks supporters to visit a website (www.actnowfororangutans.org) that provides information regarding orangutan conservation, re-forestation, and the palm oil crisis.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suspended all new grants for biomedical and behavioral research on chimpanzees and accepted the first uniform criteria for assessing the necessity of such research, dramatically limiting the use of great apes as test subjects.
The guidelines require that the research be necessary for human health, and that there be no other way to accomplish it.
NIH director Dr. Francis S. Collins, said that chimpanzees, as the closest human relatives, deserve “special consideration and respect” and that the agency was accepting the recommendations released earlier in the day that concluded most research on chimpanzees was unnecessary.
Although the NIH announcement does not definitively rule out future research, it was hailed by wildlife conservation, rights and welfare groups that have been battling for decades to end chimpanzee experimentation.
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The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is an innovative and ambitious partnership comprised of great ape range states with an immediate challenge - to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas (Gorilla beringei, G. gorilla), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), bonobos (Pan paniscus) and orangutans (Pongo abelii, P. pygmaeus) across their ranges in equatorial Africa and Southeast Asia.
The A.P.E.S portal is an online tool that provides real-time, visual representation of information about great apes, their habitats, populations, threats and conservation efforts around the world.
© 2012 Great Apes Survival Partnership