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Orangutan 'killers' on trial over slaughtering primates for pest control at palm oil plantation


Saved: British charity workers arrived just in time to save this pair of orangutans

Four men went on trial today accused of killing orangutans and other endangered primates at a palm oil plantation in Borneo.
Phuah Chuan Hun, manager of the plantation in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, and his employee Widiantoro paid two men to kill the primates, prosecutors claimed.
They and the two alleged killers, Imam Muhtarom and Mujianto, face five years each in jail if found guilty of the charge of killing endangered species.

Right to left, Malaysian Phuah Chuan Hun sits next to Indonesian Widiantoro, Imam Muhtarom and Mujianto during their trial in Tenggarong, East Kalimantan earlier today

According to news agency AFP, Prosecutor Suroto told the court: 'The two men were paid one million rupiah (£70) for each orangutan and 200,000 rupiah (£14) for other monkeys.
'The two used a 4.5-millimetre calibre airsoft gun to shoot the orangutans out of trees before their six hunting dogs chased them.'
The prosecutor claimed Muhtarom and Mujianto would then club the orangutans with rocks or wooden sticks before binding their corpses and taking photographs as evidence.

Slaughtered: Dead orangutans hang from a wooden tower at a palm oil plantation in East Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo island

All four were arrested in November after photos of them with the slaughtered primates, which included long-nosed monkeys found only in Borneo, were circulated by local villagers.
They were charged with killing one baby and two adult orangutans.
However police believe that at least 20 had been killed after seeing receipts from the company amounting to 25million rupiah (£1,762).

Bloody work: Indonesian worker Imam Muhtarom pictured at the plantation holding dead monkeys, right. Left, an Indonesian worker looks at a captured orangutan

There are only 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, experts say, with 80 per cent of them in Indonesia and the rest in Malaysia.
Poaching and destruction of their forest habitat to clear the ground for palm oil and paper plantations are driving the animals to extinction.
The trial, at Tenggarong district court, continues.
It comes two weeks after British-based international animal rescue group Four Paws saved a mother and baby orangutan from near certain death when they were circled by another set of Borneo bounty hunters.
The dramatic pictures, below, showed the knife-wielding hunters entrapping the pair in a circle and moving in for a kill.

Savage: Two Indonesian workers recover a dead orangutan at the plantation in this picture circulated to journalists by concerned local villagers

Rescue: When the animal rescue group found the 'clearly petrified' mother and baby they discovered a gang of young men who were looking to cash in on the palm oil companies' offer of £70 per orang-utan

source: dailymail