Newswise — Police in Indonesia’s Aceh Province have confiscated a number of illegally held live animals and wildlife parts from the homes of suspected wildlife traffickers, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Aceh Police—led by Second Police Officer Afrinal and Chief Police Officer Brigadier Roni Asmui—conducted their raid on May 27-28th, working in tandem with WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU), the SOCP (Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme), and the Ministry of Forestry’s Natural Resources Conservancy Agency (BKSDA).
The raid was prompted by an investigation of two suspects, one of whom—named Lbt—allegedly served as a middleman by purchasing animals from hunters and selling to collectors and other suppliers. Lbt is purportedly well known in the region for dealing in orangutans and other threatened primates.
Police officers, forest rangers, WCU agents, and SOCP veterinarians confiscated a number of protected species in the operation, including two saltwater (or estuarine) crocodiles, a siamang gibbon, giant squirrel, porcupine, four slow loris, two eagles and a lesser adjutant stork from the residence of Lbt.
“This is an important step forward in dealing with illegally captured and traded wildlife in northern Sumatra,” said SOCP’s Director Dr Ian Singleton. “The numbers of animals such as orangutans and other protected species still being killed and captured, and ending up as illegal pets is still as high as ever, since people still consider the chances of any legal consequences to be close to zero. This simply has to change and the number of cases prosecuted in the courts has to go up dramatically. This case is also an excellent example of cooperation between NGO’s, police and government agencies. Indeed we must all continue to work together to achieve this goal.”
The team also confiscated a stuffed Sumatran tiger skin from the residence of Mns, the second suspect.
“Aceh police will continue to protect wildlife through the confiscation of illegally captured and smuggled animals and wildlife products and the arrests of those who violate Indonesia’s laws,” said Police Senior Commissioner Joko Irwanto. “We ask the people to support our efforts in conserving Indonesia’s wildlife and continue to collaborate with national and international NGOs for law enforcement efforts.”
Dr. Noviar Andayani, Country Director WCS-Indonesia Program added: “We appreciate the efforts of the Aceh police to uncover illegal wildlife syndicates operating in the country’s protected areas. This strong commitment from the police will hopefully serve as a model for wildlife enforcement in other regions.”
The WCU provides Indonesian law enforcement agencies with data, technical advice, and other support in the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes.
WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit in northern Sumatra is supported by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Asian Elephant Conservation Fund and Great Apes Conservation Fund, and the American Zoological Association’s Tiger Conservation Campaign.