Orangutan ‘killers’ on trial for slaughtering plantation primates
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.
All four were arrested in November after photos of them with the slaughtered primates, which included long-nosed monkeys found only in Borneo, were circulated by local villagers. They were charged with killing one baby and two adult orangutans.
However police believe that at least 20 had been killed after seeing receipts from the company amounting to 25million rupiah (USD $2,788).
There are only about 66,000 orangutans left in the wild, experts say, with 80 per cent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia.
Poaching and destruction of their forest habitat to clear the ground for palm oil and paper plantations are driving the animals to extinction.
The trial, at Tenggarong district court, continues.
It comes two weeks after British-based international animal rescue group Four Paws saved a mother and baby orangutan from near certain death when they were circled by another set of Borneo bounty hunters.
The dramatic pictures, below, showed the knife-wielding hunters entrapping the pair in a circle and moving in for a kill.