Indonesian authorities have arrested five wildlife trade suspects for attempting to illegally sell Sumatran tiger skins. The most recent raid took place in Jakarta on August 7 and recovered many protected wildlife species in addition to two complete tiger skins. On July 16, a raid in Sumatra recovered 33 tiger skin pieces, which ranged in size.
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 WCS Wildlife Crimes Unit and local partners.
The raids are part of recent stepped-up efforts by Indonesian authorities to control the illegal wildlife trade. In the last 18 months, they have arrested 20 people 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. These items are typically sold to collectors in Indonesia and throughout East Asia as souvenirs and talismans. They are also used in traditional medicine.
Created by WCS in 2003, the Wildlife Crimes 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 seeking to put a stop to the capture, possession, and trade of protected wildlife. The unit is part of WCS’s mission to save tigers in Indonesia.
“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 WCS-Indonesia. “We also commend the courts for the message they send when these cases are tried fairly and sentenced heavily.”
Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, director of WCS’s Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program, added that the illegal trade in wildlife threatens many other endangered marine and terrestrial animals. In Indonesia, these includes rhino, elephant, orangutan, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats, and sharks. “It is only through decisive action against those that participate in this illegal trade that we can stamp it out,” she said.
Read the press release: WCS Takes a Tiger-Size Bite out of Crime in Indonesia