Orangutan Confiscation

Orangutans have been formally protected by Indonesian law for many decades. It is illegal to capture, kill, keep or trade them (Law No. 5/1990). These activities continue, however, due to inadequate law enforcement.

As deforestation of protected areas continues, many orangutans are displaced from their natural habitat and forced into proximity to human developments. This can result in Human Orangutan Conflict, where orangutans may be shot or killed as a pest, due to crop-raiding and/or fear of this large mammal species.  Oftentimes too when an adult female with an infant is killed, her infant is illegally held or sold and forced into a life in captivity.

The SOCP is working closely with the Indonesian authorities to address this problem. We constantly investigate cases of illegal capture, keeping and trade in the species, and regularly confiscate those being kept illegally as pets, but more prosecutions and much stiffer sentences are needed.

Since its inception in 2001, the SOCP has received over 360 ex-captive orangutans into its quarantine facility, with arrests and prosecutions being extremely rare (with a total reported number of 7 prosecutions across the country from 1993-2016).


Adults and infants who survive the captivity period and are confiscated should actually be considered the lucky ones, as many orangutans simply do not survive the process.  Often, confiscated orangutans have been very badly treated in captivity, and are frequently in poor health; some also have horrific injuries.

Therefore the only rehabilitation centre for the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan, the SOCP Quarantine Centre, located in Batu Mbelin, North Sumatra, operates on a 24/7 year-round basis to be able to care for its temporary, permanent residents (who shall become Orangutan Haven residents in late 2018), and new-intake orangutans.

"It’s always a thrill to see the orangutans we’ve cared for living free again, as wild orangutans in the forest. Its especially heart warming when you remember the appalling condition some of them were in when they arrived at the SOCP and we first met them."

Drh. Yenny Saraswati Senior Veterinarian SOCP

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