Gorillas will trek home this year

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia said yesterday it was working with South Africa to return four smuggled young gorillas to Cameroon before the end of this year.

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia said yesterday it was working with South Africa to return four smuggled young gorillas to Cameroon before the end of this year.

This follows delays that have kept the animals in safekeeping in Pretoria since 2004.

The lowland gorillas - one male and three females captured by poachers in the wild - were smuggled through South Africa to Malaysia's Taiping Zoo in 2002.

After learning the shipment was illegal, the Malaysian government sent them back to South Africa, where they were quarantined at Pretoria Zoo in April 2004.

Wildlife activists have said Malaysia's approval is needed for South Africa to send the apes, now about seven years old, to the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. Malaysia has ownership of the animals until they are returned to Cameroon.

Aziyah Mohamed, the Malaysian natural resources and environment ministry's forestry division under-secretary, said Malaysia and South Africa were cooperating to resolve the issue. - Sapa-AP

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