INDONESIA (MAY 31, 2016) – The Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP), Langkat District Police (Polres Langkat), and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU) announced an enforcement action against wildlife brokers for trading tiger parts. The perpetrators were arrested in Kuta Gajah, Langkat, North Sumatra on May 24, 2016.
The arrest was led by Second Police Inspector Relapang Sitepu, and carried out by nine police and forest rangers from GLNP. The operation involved a transaction for one fresh tiger skin, and a full set of tiger bones, including one tiger skull. The brokers allegedly tried to trade the tiger parts in Aceh. The suspects confessed that the tiger, believed to have originated from the GLNP tiger habitat, was trapped by a snare and later killed by a poacher. The poacher then contacted the brokers to help him sell the tiger’s parts.
Taking only three days to detect the tiger parts through a WCU informant (who monitored a hotspot for the tiger trade in Langkat), locate the broker’s house, and coordinate with authorities in executing an operation, this was the fastest operation to date carried out by WCU.
The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies that is now considered to be Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Sumatran tiger poaching and trading is illegal under Indonesian law and violators are subject to a maximum of 5 years in prison and a USD 10,000 fine.
Police Adjunct Senior Commissioner Mulya Hakim from the Langkat Police said, “This arrest was made possible due to the solid collaboration between the Langkat Police, GLNP, and the WCU. Accurate information enabled good results. The police will continue the investigation, and with support from the provincial police (POLDA), gather more findings related to the broker network and other suspects.”
Mr. Sapto from GLNP was quoted, “We would like to express our gratitude to the Langkat District police and civil society to help us in protecting the tigers.”
The estimated population of Sumatran tigers in GLNP is worryingly low at about 100 individuals. Two arrests have been made since 2015 for tiger trafficking inside the Leuser Landscape. We are working with various agencies to combat this activity, as well as removing tiger snares through regular patrols.
On May 23, BKSDA and Aceh Provincial Police (POLDA Aceh) destroyed hundreds of tiger parts and ivory tusks in Banda Aceh. More than 80 percent of the evidence destroyed originated from cases investigated by the WCU involving POLDA Aceh and the GLNP. WCS supported the government in destroying the evidence to avoid animal part laundering on the illegal market. Four burning events involving various protected animal parts have been carried out in Aceh, Jakarta, and Bali.
Country Director WCS-Indonesia Program, Dr. Noviar Andayani said, “WCS applauds the strong support and commitment of Langkat police district and GLNP to protect one of Indonesia’s most threatened species. Only with consistent and fair enforcement of the law can Sumatran tigers and other protected species be saved in their natural habitats.”
WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit is supported by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Fondation Segré, Morgan Family Foundation, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Multinational Species Conservation Funds, AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan’s Tiger Conservation Campaign, the UK Government's IWT Challenge Fund and the United States International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau.