After an undercover sting operation that stretched on for months, police in Aceh, Indonesia have arrested two suspects that allegedly ran five tiger poaching rings in Sumatra. Officials also confiscated thousands of dollars worth of illegal animal parts. Says Mongabay.com:
Posing as potential buyers, undercover police caught the suspects with stuffed Sumatran tigers and other illegal wildlife including a clouded leopard, two golden cats and a sun bear skin. Aceh Police Criminal Investigation Director Joko Irwanto estimated the confiscated animals to be worth hundreds of millions of rupiah, roughly tens of thousands of dollars.
If they are found guilty, the suspects could face five years in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million ($8,200). The arrest is being heralded as a big step in the fight against wildlife trafficking for the country, where many people believe that animal parts hold mystical properties, and where arrests for wildlife crimes are few and far between. Just last October, two soldiers were convicted of possessing two stuffed Sumatran tigers and a stuffed sun bear, which was the very first successful prosecution for wildlife crimes in Aceh. With the most recent arrests, hope is growing that officials will be able to crack down on wildlife trafficking in the area.
“This recent arrest shows that Indonesia is getting increasingly serious about not tolerating wildlife crime, which threaten its spectacular natural heritage,” said Joe Walston, Asia programs director at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Currently, there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in Indonesia, thanks to rampant deforestation and poaching, which is responsible for an estimated 78 percent of deaths of the species, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
ACTION GUIDE: Wildlife Trafficking
Every year, wildlife traders reap a collective $10 billion to $20 billion in profits from poaching and trading products like rhino horn, ivory, alligator skin, tiger paws, eggs, bushmeat, live animals used as pets, and much more -- not to mention illegal live animal sales. HSI has developed this guide to help avoid buying products made from this illicit trade. Born Free USA has this helpful state-by-state guide on which animals are illegal to own (many because they are illegally obtained). For more information, or to become more involved in this issue: WWF’s anti-trafficking campaigns, Save The Rhino, and Traffic.