Illegal Pet Trade



The trade of orangutans, despite it being illegal, continues to thrive in the regions of Borneo and Sumatra because of its high profitability. Hundreds of infant orangutans are taken from the wild annually and traded in the black markets. This is usually done by killing the mother and taking her baby orangutans. However, for every one baby orangutan that manages to reach the market, 4-5 die from accidents such as falling off vehicles, or even from shock from seeing their mother die.

It is not uncommon for many high-ranking government and military officials to take pleasure in keeping orangutans as pets as they view keeping endangered wildlife in their homes as a sign of perceived ‘superior status’. There is also a demand for orangutans outside Indonesia in countries such as Taiwan and the orangutans are illegally sold and shipped overseas. Although it is illegal, and also orangutans do not make very manageable and suitable pets, there is still very much a demand for orangutans as pets especially in Kalimantan and people continue to hunt them down for the sake of their trading business.

Little is being done by the Indonesian government in enforcing the laws prohibiting orangutan trade. An estimated 2000 orangutans have been confiscated or turned in by private owners in the past 3 decades but no more than a handful of people have ever been successfully prosecuted. Under the national legislation, the penalty for illegally possessing orangutans include a fine of up to $9,000 and imprisonment for up to 5 years. Tackling this issue requires investigating the root causes of trade and stricter enforcement of the laws for the protection of orangutans and the government should continue to address these issues as soon as possible.