Monday, November 30, 2009

Indonesia: Illegal animal trading uncovered

Wahyoe Boediwardhana , THE JAKARTA POST , MALANG - Fri, 11/06/2009 2:36 PM - National

A joint team of police and NGO activists arrested a man who is allegedly a member of a syndicate trading in protected animals, in Walikukun district, Ngawi regency, East Java.

The team, which comprised of personnel from the East Java Police and activists from non governmental organizations ProFauna Indonesia and Humane Society International (HSI), also seized caged protected animals from the man, identified as Sumadi, 40, during the raid on Wednesday.

"We went undercover, pretending that we wanted to buy six lutungs *long-tailed monkeys* from the suspect," ProFauna Indonesia's campaign officer Radius Nursidi told The Jakarta Post.

Radius said that a few days prior to the arrest, the team conducted an investigation in the Walikukun forest along the Ngawi-Sragen route, after receiving reports from the community regarding the suspected sale of protected animals in the forest.

Sumadi, according to Radius, agreed to meet to hand over the order after establishing a price for the animals. Each lutung was priced at Rp 200,000.

He also told the undercover official that he frequently sold protected primates including Sunda lorises and lutungs. Sunda lorises, he said, were usually priced between Rp 75,000 and Rp 250,000 each, while Javanese lutungs were sold for about Rp 200,000 each.

"After agreeing on the price, the undercover official was taken to a place in the forest to pick up the lutung. There we arrested the suspect," Radius said.

He added that the joint team also found dozens of cages filled with animals protected under the law governing the conservation of natural resources and ecosystems.

All the animals were seized and transported to the East Java Police headquarters in Surabaya as evidence.

The seized animals comprised of 21 Sunda lorises, 15 Javanese lutung, a white bellied sea eagle and a leopard cat as evidence.

Sumadi, however, told the officials that the seized animals belonged to some friends of his, who share the same "profession".

Another suspect, believed to be the owner of some of the seized animals, reportedly escaped soon after Sumadi's arrest.

Both Javanese lutungs and Sunda lorises, Radius said, were on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and were categorized as endemic animals on the brink of extinction.

The region along the Ngawi-Sragen highway, near the R Soerjo monument, has long been known as a notorious trading site for protected primates. For years, protected primates like Sunda lorises and Javanese lutungs have been freely traded in the region, on both sides of the route.

The arrest was made only two weeks after ProFauna issued its report on the trades of protected animals in bird markets across Java Island.

ProFauna Indonesia's chairman Rosek Nursahid expressed hope the arrest and seizure would help stem, or even stop, the trade of protected animals in Ngawi.

"We suspect this is part of a protected animal trading syndicate," he said,

ProFauna's latest report based on a survey conducted in 70 bird markets across Java Island shows that the trade of protected animals at those markets is relatively high.

The R. Soerjo monument market was among the markets featured in the survey.


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