By Nurdin Hasan
Aceh Police on Friday confiscated eight specimens of protected wildlife that had been preserved by two men to be sold to a collectors, a local police official said.
Speaking at a press conference in Banda Aceh on Monday, the director of the special crimes unit of the Aceh Police, Sr. Comr. Joko Irwanto announced the arrests of the two individuals, identified as M., 33, and M.M., 38, who were residents from the Central Aceh district.
Joko said the animals seized include two Sumatran tigers, a honey bear, a leopard, a hornbill, a clouded leopard, a muntjac deer, antelopes, two golden cats as well as eight bear teeth.
“From the earlier questioning, the two suspects said they were merely temporary holders of the animals,” Joko said.
He added that the individuals have already been named suspects in the case and were arrested for violating the conservation laws.
“The two are being charged with the 1990 Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Law No. 5, with a maximum punishment of five years in prison and Rp 100 million ($8,000) in fines.”
Joko emphasized that investigators would move to expand the case as, based on information received from the suspects, the preserved animals were meant to be sold to a specific network of buyers of preserved animals.
“Our plan is to set up a bait for a buyer in order to look into the network of illegal trade in wildlife, which is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of rupiah,” he said.
“The Sumatran tiger is worth Rp 80 million, while the clouded leopard is worth Rp 20 million, so this evidence we have confiscated is worth hundreds of millions if sold on the black market.”
Joko also said officials would move to immediately and thoroughly investigate other cases of environmental crimes in Aceh and vowed that police would move to find hunters serving as suppliers to sellers in the region for the past few years.
“This year we are committed to investigate sellers of wild animals in Aceh. This is the first case that the Aceh regional police has ever handled,” he said.