By Diana Parker
A military court in Indonesia’s Aceh province has jailed two soldiers for illegally possessing two stuffed Sumatran tigers (Pathera tigris sumatrae) and a stuffed sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), a rare verdict in the Sumatran province where crimes involving wildlife are seldom prosecuted.
The Banda Aceh court on Thursday sentenced Chief Sgt. Joko Rianto to two months in prison and a 5 million rupiah ($454) fine. Chief Pvt. Rawali was handed a three-month jail term and a fine of 2.5 million rupiah. The two men were found guilty of violating sections of a law on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. Their crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a fine of 100 million rupiah.
According to Judge Budi Parnomo, who handed down the verdict, Joko said he was keeping the taxidermied animals because having sun bear claws and a tiger skin in his house was helping to cure his sick wife. Rawali, meanwhile, claimed he was keeping the second stuffed tiger as collateral from a friend who had borrowed 9 million rupiah.
Despite the explanations given by the men, Budi said they had still broken the law by keeping the protected animals and had to be convicted. “If we hadn’t prosecuted them, later other people may have followed their example, which would lead to the extinction of protected Sumatran tigers,” Budi said, as quoted in The Globe Journal, a Banda Aceh newspaper.
Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN's Red List, and WWF estimates fewer than 400 are left in the wild. They are severely threatened by both poaching and habitat loss in Indonesia, and killing, keeping, or trading tigers or their parts is prohibited under Indonesian law. More....