By Yuli Krisna
Wildlife conservation activists have demanded a crackdown on a controversial club purporting to breed endangered birds but that they claim is a front for illegal wildlife trafficking.
Several protesters from the Wildlife Anti-Trafficking League (LAPS) held a demonstration on Thursday outside the West Java governor’s office in Bandung to denounce the activities of the Raptor Club Indonesia.
“They claim to be a community of eagle enthusiasts, but the fact is that each member keeps at least one type of eagle in captivity,” said Irma Hermawati, the protest coordinator.
“So you can imagine how many eagles they have.”
She said the proliferation of groups like the RCI fueled a common perception that it was acceptable to capture wild birds and keep them as pets.
As a result of such thinking, she went on, the LAPS had recorded an increase in the hunting and poaching of birds from the wild in recent years.
“The trade in wild birds is particularly intense in Bandung, Jakarta and Yogyakarta, as well as other regions across the country,” Irma said.
She added that the LAPS, which counts groups such as ProFauna Indonesia and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network among its members, had recorded at least 300 raptors captured for sale in the past five years.
Under the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law and a 1999 government regulation, the trade in or possession of any kind of bird of prey native to Indonesia is strictly prohibited.
The LAPS said this did not stop RCI members from continuing to collect and trade such birds, ironically under the auspices of a cooperation agreement with local Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) centers.
The club insists its ultimate aim is the conservation of Indonesia’s raptor species, but lists its main activity as falconry — the training and domestication of birds of prey to hunt other animals. More....