Significant convictions in Indonesia mark progress in the fight against orangutan trafficking

The trial of two suspects accused of orangutan trafficking concluded in Indonesia on 26 February 2024 with a significant conviction. Bolang Ramadhani, a notorious orangutan trafficker, was apprehended by the Indonesian National Police (INP) in Aceh on 28 September 2023. His accomplice, Reza Heryadi, was caught in Medan (North Sumatra) a day earlier while transporting two infant orangutans. These arrests stemmed from a joint investigation by the Wildlife Justice Commission and the INP aimed at dismantling orangutan supplier networks operating from Indonesia to Thailand. Notably, the operation also resulted in the rescue of two infant orangutans.

Mr Ramadhani received a three-year prison sentence, while Mr Heryadi was sentenced to two years. Additionally, both suspects were fined 50 million Indonesian Rupiah each (equivalent to approximately EUR 3,000).

These convictions underscore Indonesia’s commitment to protecting endangered species and enforcing accountability under the Law on Conservation of Living Resources and their Ecosystems, which prohibits trade in protected wildlife species. Ongoing discussions within Indonesia’s House of Representatives to revise this law, with proposed amendments to strengthen penalties for wildlife trade-related offenses, further demonstrate the country’s proactive stance against wildlife trafficking.

“The arrests and convictions of Mr Ramadhani and Mr Heryadi are anticipated to disrupt the orangutan supply chain in Indonesia, dealing a major blow to this illicit trade. The Wildlife Justice Commission commends the efforts of Indonesian authorities and the North Sumatra Police to disrupt organised wildlife trafficking and we are committed to continue supporting them in this endeavour.”

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission

The Wildlife Justice Commission’s investigations into the criminal networks facilitating the trafficking of orangutans between Southeast Asia and the Middle East have revealed the speed at which orangutans are obtained from the wild and sold. Infant orangutans generally sell within 24 hours of becoming available, indicating the high demand for the species and the efficiency of the criminal networks in moving them from source to destination. Infant orangutans are captured and sold as exotic pets or for entertainment purposes. Mothers do not easily give up their babies and are usually killed for bushmeat. It is estimated that ten adults are killed for every infant orangutan that enters the illegal trade. 

All great apes are classified as endangered or critically endangered, and commercial trade in wild-caught individuals is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).