Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

Baby orangutan Bon Bon is being prepared to move to a conservation center in Sumatra. (AFP)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

  • The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities stopped Russian trafficker Andrei Zhestkov
  • Zhestkov was later sentenced to a year in prison in July

BALI, Indonesia: A baby orangutan that was drugged by a Russian trafficker in a failed bid to smuggle it out of Bali will be released back into the wild.
The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities on the Indonesian holiday island stopped Andrei Zhestkov, who was flying back to Russia, and opened his luggage to find a two-year-old orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket.
Zhestkov, sentenced to a year in prison in July, had packed baby formula and blankets for the orangutan. He was also carrying two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.
On Monday, conservation authorities in Bali rolled out a big fruit plate for fuzzy-haired Bon Bon as he prepares to move to a conservation center in Sumatra — one of just two places where the critically endangered species is found in the wild.
Bon Bon’s caretaker, Ketut Diandika, confessed to being a little bit sad at the ape’s departure.
“I actually want Bon Bon to stay here so that I can still take care of him,” he said.
The Southeast Asian archipelago’s rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and it is a key source and transit point for animal trafficking.
In a separate case at the weekend, officials in Sumatra’s Riau province said they arrested two men, allegedly part of an international trafficking ring, who were attempting to smuggle four lion cubs and a baby leopard from Africa, along with dozens of tortoises.


India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

Updated 20 min 32 sec ago

India celebrates Republic Day with military parade

  • Schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indians converged on a ceremonial boulevard in the capital amid tight security to celebrate the Republic Day on Sunday, which marks the 1950 anniversary of the country’s democratic constitution.
During the celebrations, schoolchildren, folk dancers, and police and military battalions marched through New Delhi’s parade route, followed by a military hardware display.
Beyond the show of military power, the parade also included ornate floats highlighting India’s cultural diversity as men, women and children in colorful dresses performed traditional dances, drawing applause from the spectators.
The 90-minute event, broadcast live, was watched by millions of Indians on their television sets across the country.
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year’s celebrations.
He was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honor by President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.
Bolsonaro joined the two Indian leaders as the military parade marched through a central avenue near the Presidential Palace.
At the parade, Bolsonaro watched keenly as mechanized columns of Indian tanks, rocket launchers, locally made nuclear-capable missile systems and other hardware rolled down the parade route and air force jets sped by overhead.
Apart from attending the Republic Day celebrations, Bolsonaro’s visit was also aimed at strengthening trade and investment ties across a range of fields between the two countries.
On Saturday, Modi and Bolsonaro reached an agreement to promote investment in each other’s country.
Before the parade, Modi paid homage to fallen soldiers at the newly built National War Memorial in New Delhi as the national capital was put under tight security cover.
Smaller parades were also held in the state capitals.
Police said five grenades were lobbed in the eastern Assam state by separatist militants who have routinely boycotted the Republic Day celebrations. No one was injured, police said.
Sunday’s blasts also come at a time when Assam has been witnessing continuous protests against the new citizenship law that have spread to many Indian states.
The law approved in December provides a fast-track to naturalization for persecuted religious minorities from some neighboring Islamic countries, but excludes Muslims.
Nationwide protests have brought tens of thousands of people from different faiths and backgrounds together, in part because the law is seen by critics as part of a larger threat to the secular fabric of Indian society.