For the first time ever, Indonesia's highest Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Council of Ulama, has issued a fatwa, or edict, against illegal wildlife trafficking. The country, which has the world's largest Muslim population, declared illegal hunting or illegal trading of endangered species to beharam, or forbidden.
A fatwa is a call to action in the Muslim world -- this one calls upon Indonesia's 200 million Muslims to protect and conserve endangered species.
"This fatwa is issued to give an explanation, as well as guidance, to all Muslims in Indonesia on the sharia law perspective on issues related to animal conservation," said Hayu Prabowo, chair of the Council of Ulama's environment and natural resources body, according to National Geographic.
The fatwa is the first of its kind, especially in a country plagued by threats to its rare and often endangered wildlife.
"All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions are haram (forbidden). These include illegal hunting and trading of endangered animals," said council official Asrorun Ni'am Sholeh told AFP. "Whoever takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God's other living creatures, especially if they die in vain."
Conservationists have already applauded the move, calling it a step in the right direction.
"It provides a spiritual aspect and raises moral awareness which will help us in our work to protect and save the remaining wildlife in the country such as the critically endangered tigers and rhinos," WWF Indonesia communications director, Nyoman Iswara Yoga said.