Local authorities say they have arrested a Russian tourist who was attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of the Indonesian resort of Bali.
Ketut Catur Marbawa from Bali province's conservation agency said 27-year-old Andrei Zhestkov was detained late on Friday at an airport after an X-ray found the two-year-old male orangutan in a rattan basket inside his luggage.
Mr Marbawa said that customs officers also found allergy pills, two geckos and five other lizards in the man’s suitcase. All the animals were alive.
He said that Mr Zhestkov told authorities he deliberately fed the orangutan allergy pills mixed with milk, causing the animal to lose consciousness for up to three hours.
Mr Zhestkov also reportedly told officials he bought the orangutan for $3,000 (€2,650) from a market on the Indonesian island of Java after being told by a friend that he could bring it home as a pet.
Mr Marbawa said Mr Zhestkov had yet to be charged because police were still investigating to see if there were any links to international syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking.
Mr Marbawa did not know whether Mr Zhestkov had a lawyer. He said the Russian mission in Bali had been informed about the case.
Orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A 2018 comprehensive study of Borneo’s orangutans estimates their numbers have fallen by more than 100,000 since 1999, as the palm oil and paper industries shrink their habitat and fatal conflicts with people increase. – AP