Borneo orangutan found riddled with gunshots in latest attack

Jakarta (AFP) - The body of a Borneo orangutan has been found riddled with some 130 airgun pellets, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, the latest fatal attack on the critically endangered species.

The male orangutan, which also showed signs of a machete wounds, was found by villagers in Borneo's East Kutai district this week, police said, adding that an autopsy had been done on the mutilated primate.

"We found pellets all over its body. There were also a number of cut wounds that could have been caused by a machete," said local police chief Dedi Agustono, who added that the killer remained at large.

"It is the most bullet wounds we have ever seen on an orangutan," he added. Most of the pellets were lodged in the animal's head and around its eyes.

The gruesome killing comes about a week after Borneo police arrested two rubber plantation workers and accused them of shooting an orangutan multiple times and then decapitating it.

The orangutan's headless body had been found floating in a river on the island, which is shared with Malaysia. The Indonesian portion of Borneo is called Kalimantan.

Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Sumatran orangutan population is estimated to be just under 15,000, while about 54,000 orangutans are thought to live in Borneo, according to the IUCN.

Rampant logging and the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations have been blamed for destroying their jungle habitat, leading to numerous conflicts with humans.

Plantation workers and villagers are sometimes known to attack an animal that they see as a pest, while poachers also capture them to sell as pets.

Most orangutan killings are not solved, said Ramadhani, a manager at the Centre for Orangutan Protection which helped with the autopsy.

"We are pushing law enforcement to solve the case as soon as possible," added the conservationist, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

"If they're serious, they should be able to arrest the perpetrators, just like what they have done in central Borneo."

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