She also adds that the penalties against those who do traffic the orangutans is woefully weak: Gokong's captor, for example, should have been convicted of having a critically endangered species. But SOCP knows of only three convicted cases in the organization's history - and in the case of Gokong, neither the fishermen nor the palm oil plantation worker were prosecuted.
The plight of the Sumatran orangutans
There are some 6,600 wild Sumatran orangutans in the region, estimates McKelson, and SOCP's mission is to confiscate, quarantine and reintroduce all the illegally held orangutans back into the area whenever possible. (For those who cannot be returned into the wild, SOCP is building a lifetime care center called Orangutan Haven.)
Returning these rehabilitated orphans into the wild is time sensitive: The Sumatran orangutan is a critically endangered species that has seen a decline in population of at least 80 percent in the last 75 years, according to the IUCN, and that's quite possibly an underestimate. The commercial trade of orangutans is prohibited but that legislation, like many wildlife laws, is flouted, and orangutans like Gokong end up in the illegal pet trade and in individual homes.