Smuggled orangutan seized at Bali airport

A young orangutan seized while being smuggled through Denpasar airport in Bali, 23 March 2019Image copyright AFP
Image caption The young male was found drugged

A Russian man has been arrested in Bali on suspicion of trying to smuggle a young orangutan out of Indonesia.

The two-year-old male was found drugged inside a rattan basket when Andrei Zhestkov was stopped at security at Denpasar airport on Friday night.

Mr Zhestkov is said to have told officials he was given the primate by a friend who bought it for $3,000 .

Orangutans are a protected species and Mr Zhestkov could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency will look after him

“The Russian also had injections and drugs in his bag. He said he planned to re-administer the drugs when they transited” in South Korea, Dewa Delanata, from the airport’s quarantine office, told the Jakarta Post.

Two live geckos and five lizards were also found in the passenger’s luggage.

According to the authorities, Mr Zhestkov, 27, said he was convinced by his friend, also Russian, that it would be okay to take the orangutan back to Russia to keep as a pet.

The animal is being looked after by the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The animal was found drugged in a rattan basket

Orangutans face threats from poachers and farmers in Indonesia.

The Tapanuli orangutan, found in isolated forests in Sumatra, has been described by conservationists as the most endangered great ape species in the world.

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