Dozens of skins of various species, including Sumatran tigers, were seized and suspects were arrested in the latest raids on illegal wildlife traders by Indonesian authorities, the Wildlife Conservation Society said today.
Photo courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
The most recent raid took place in Jakarta on August 7 and recovered two complete tiger skins and those of many other protected wildlife species, the New York-based conservation charity said in a statement. This raid resulted in the arrest of four suspects for attempting to illegally sell a Sumatran tiger skin.
“Four suspects were arrested in the raid and 34 skins of various species were recovered, including two tiger skins,” said Colonel Agus Sutisna, Director of the Special Crimes Unit of the Jakarta Police. “The skins were destined for sale to collectors in Indonesia and abroad. This successful operation was a joint collaboration between the Police, the Department of Forestry and NGO partners.”
On July 16, a raid in Sumatra recovered 33 tiger skin pieces, ranging in size from a few centimeters to larger pieces, and resulted in another wildlife trader arrested, WCS said.
“Both raids were conducted by the Indonesian Police and the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crime Unit and local partners.
“These raids, part of recent stepped-up efforts by Indonesian authorities to control the illegal wildlife trade, bring the number of arrests to 20 in the last 18 months for trading in tiger parts. Seven of these cases have already resulted in prison sentences and fines, and the rest are awaiting trial.”
Last month also saw the sentencing of four traders in Jakarta arrested earlier this year and found guilty of illegally possessing and selling tiger skins, bones, and teeth, WCS added.
Photo courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
In Indonesia, tigers (Panthera tigris) are now only found on the island of Sumatra, where the subspecies is considered a distinct form: the ‘Sumatran Tiger’ (Panthera tigris sumatrae), WCS said. “Former populations in Bali and Java are extinct. The total population of tigers on Sumatra is probably now less than one thousand.”
Under Indonesian law it is illegal to kill, possess, buy or sell tigers or their body parts.
Tigers are killed by hunters to supply the demand for tiger parts such as skins, teeth, bones, hair, WCS said. “These parts are used as souvenirs, in traditional medicine, and as talismans. Many of the tiger parts traded in Indonesia are bound for export to east Asia. Tigers are also killed when they become involved in conflicts with local farmers.”
The WCS Wildlife Crime Unit provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. In Jakarta it operates as part of the Forum Against Wildlife Trade, an alliance of local organizations fighting illegal wildlife trade.
“We commend the work of the Indonesian police and forestry department in these recent cases for their commitment to uphold and enforce the law,” said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program. “We also commend the courts for the message they send when these cases are tried fairly and sentenced heavily.”
“It is only through decisive action against those that participate in this illegal trade that we can stamp it out.”
“The illegal trade in wildlife threatens not only iconic animals like the tiger, but also many other endangered species of marine and terrestrial animals,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, director of WCS’s Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program. “It is only through decisive action against those that participate in this illegal trade that we can stamp it out.”
“The Indonesian Government is committed to stopping illegal wildlife trade and strengthening its commitments to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” said Mohammed Awriya Ibrahim, Director of Forest Protection for PHKA. “We are seeking to put a stop to the capture, possession and trade of protected wildlife in Indonesia,”
Other wildlife traded illegally from Indonesia includes rhino, elephant, orangutan, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats and sharks, according to WCS.