February 8, 2018 / 6:59 AM / 12 days ago

Indonesia probes killing of Borneo orangutan

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A critically endangered Borneo orangutan shot to death in Indonesia took 130 pellets from an air rifle, in addition to cuts and bruises, an official of a wildlife group said on Thursday.

Indonesia has vast swathes of palm or coffee plantations growing on deforested land, and the year’s second such killing is the latest in a series officials often blame on plantation workers and farmers who encounter wildlife on their property.

“It had been blinded,” said Ramadhani, a habitat protection manager with the Center for Orangutan Protection, which made an X-ray examination of the dead animal.

“We found 74 air rifle pellets lodged just in its head,” added Ramadhani, who uses only one name, like many Indonesians.

“One hundred and thirty pellets are the largest number in the history of conflicts between orangutans and humans that have occurred in Indonesia,” the charity said on its website.

Police said they were investigating the killing in East Kalimantan province and the perpetrators could face jail for up to five years.

Police have arrested and charged two men in last month’s discovery of a Borneo orangutan shot and decapitated in the neighboring province of Central Kalimantan. The suspects claim self-defense.

Government teams have fanned out across Kalimantan, the habitat of orangutans, to train villagers how to deal with wildlife.

The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates there are 104,700 Bornean orangutans, known for their broad faces and dark brown fur, left in the world.  

(This version of the story corrects “bullets” to “pellets”)

Reporting and writing by Jessica Damiana; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Clarence Fernandez

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