Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Arrests over orangutan killings

Fewer than 30,000 orangutans live in the wilds of Borneo and Sumatra.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (Reuters) -- Malaysian police have arrested three men in connection with the harpooning to death of three captive orangutans at a luxury hotel on Borneo island.

The Star newspaper on Wednesday quoted the police chief of Malaysia's Sabah state, Ramli Yusuff, as saying officers had arrested three men whom he said had been unhappy with management at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Hotel, where the apes were kept as a tourist attraction.

Ramli said police got numerous tip-offs about the August 18 killing of the animals in Tuaran, 40 km (25 miles) up the coast from state capital Kota Kinabalu, after rewards of 60,000 ringgit ($16,000) were offered for information.

"We are seeking information on anyone who may have sold harpoons to the suspects," Yusuff was quoted as saying.

Fewer than 30,000 orangutans live in the wilds of Borneo and Sumatra islands, according to the conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature.

Threats to their numbers include poaching and habitat loss as a result of unsustainable logging, farming and fire.