By Syamsul Huda M. Suhari
The poaching of babirusa, an animal native to Sulawesi and a member of the pig family that can be found in Gorontalo’s Nantu Wildlife Refuge, is becoming more widespread, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
Lynn Marion Clayton, a conservational biologist from Oxford University in Great Britain and founder of the Adudu Nantu International Foundation (YANI), said babirusa meat could be found at Langowan Market in Minahasa, North Sulawesi, some 500-kilometers north of Gorontalo.
Clayton, who has studied the babirusa in the Nantu Forest for over 20 years, said at least three babirusa each week were smuggled to Langowan traditional market, which is known for its exotic and unusual fare.
“Ahead of Christmas, babirusa poaching increased to as many as seven heads a week,” said Clayton.
Ironically, the meat of the animal, whose population across Sulawesi is estimated at only 5,000, can be bought for less than wild boar meat.
“A kilogram of babirusa meat is Rp 40,000 [US$3.44\ at the highest, while the same weight of wild boar can fetch up to Rp 70,000,” she said.
According to Clayton, the rampant poaching of babirusa ahead of Christmas has become a worrying annual trend.
Nevertheless, Clayton added, poachers often evade capture as planned raids are often leaked.
Nantu Forest is an important ecological site. The conservation forest, which spans 51,000 hectares and is located along the banks of the Boliyohuto River in Gorontalo regency, has been called “an ecological witness” by legendary naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) when he explained the imaginary line that separates the western and central Indonesian islands.
The combination between Asian and Australasian fauna has supported a variety of wildlife species that can only be found in this particular area. More....