On Friday, 22 March 2019, a Russian man was arrested at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport after it was found that he was trying to smuggle an infant orangutan onto his flight.
Stopped by suspicious airport security after scanning his belongings, upon checking the man’s luggage they found a two-year-old, male orangutan fast asleep in a rattan basket.
Allergy pills were also found in the bag, which were supposedly used to sedate the infant primate.
The man, identified as 27 year-old Russian Andrei Zhestov, was on his way back to Russia when he was caught. The tourist admitted that he was given the endangered species by a friend, who bought the orangutan in a street market in Java for $3000.
Orangutans are a critically endangered species and it is illegal to own or trade them.
These great apes are said to be the most intelligent of their kind, showing human-like abilities that amazed documentary filmmaker David Attenborough, and showing compassion and care that put Steve Erwin to tears.
There are two types or orangutans: Sumatran (7,500 remaining – critically endangered) and Bornean (104,700 – endangered). Deforestation, the palm oil industry and other factors have largely contributed to the loss of habitat and conflict between the local species, resulting in the rapid decline of orangutan numbers.
The illegal pet trade has also contributed to a decreased number of the animal in its natural habitat.
Andrei Zhestov could face up to five-years in prison as well as $7000 in fines.