Indonesia busts Russian smuggling drugged orang utan in suitcase

Man arrested at airport for smuggling drugged orangutan in luggage

Man arrested at airport for smuggling drugged orangutan in luggage

A Russian man has been arrested in Bali on suspicion of trying to smuggle a young orangutan out of Indonesia.

Andreï Zhestkov, 27, was stopped at a security checkpoint before boarding a plane for Russian Federation on Friday evening. "We found pills inside the suitcase", the head of Bali's Conservation Centre, I Ketut Catur Marbawa, told AFP news agency.

The would-be smuggler also packed baby formula and blankets for the orangutan as if "he was transporting a baby", an official said.

Police also found two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.

Marbawa said Zhestkov had yet to be charged because police were still investigating to see if there were links to global syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking.

Orangutans are endangered and Zhestkov could face as much as five years prison and a $7,000 fine.

Zhestkov told authorities that the protected orang utan was given to him by his friend as a gift, another Russian tourist who bought the primate for US$3,000 (S$4,050) from a street market in Java.

Zhestkov said his friend convinced him he could take the orangutan home to keep as a pet.

Earlier this month, an Indonesian court dismissed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the construction of a hydro-electric dam, which is being built by a Chinese consortium in the heart of a Sumatran rainforest, home to the world's most endangered species of orangutan.

Orangutans are native to Indonesia and Malaysia, found in the wild on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

A string of fatal attacks on the apes have been blamed on farmers and hunters.

A man was arrested at an airport for smuggling an orangutan in his luggage.

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