• WCS Reports: Indonesia steps-up fight against illegal tiger trade
  • Recent arrests and prosecutions in Sumatra and Jakarta put the heat on illegal wildlife traders, with WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit playing key role in arrests

New York (August 13, 2009)
– The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today two successful raids by Indonesian authorities that resulted in the arrests of suspects for attempting to illegally sell Sumatran tiger skins.

The most recent raid took place in Jakarta on August 7th and recovered two complete tiger skins and many other protected wildlife species. This raid resulted in the arrest of four suspects for attempting to illegally sell a Sumatran tiger skin. On July 16th, a raid in Sumatra recovered 33 tiger skin pieces, ranging in size from a few centimeters to larger pieces, and resulted in another wildlife trader arrested.

Both raids were conducted by the Indonesian Police and the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Wildlife Crime Unit and local partners.

These raids, part of recent stepped-up efforts by Indonesian authorities to control the illegal wildlife trade, bring the number of arrests to 20 in the last 18 months for trading in tiger parts. Seven of these cases have already resulted in prison sentences and fines, and the rest are awaiting trial.

Last month also saw the sentencing of four traders in Jakarta arrested earlier this year and found guilty of illegally possessing and selling tiger skins, bones, and teeth.

Created by WCS in 2003, the Wildlife Crime Unit provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. In Jakarta it operates as part of the Forum Against Wildlife Trade, an alliance of local organizations fighting illegal wildlife trade.

“The Indonesian Government is committed to stopping illegal wildlife trade and strengthening its commitments to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), said Mohammed Awriya Ibrahim, Director of Forest Protection for PHKA. “We are seeking to put a stop to the capture, possession and trade of protected wildlife in Indonesia,”

“Four suspects were arrested in the raid and 34 skins of various species were recovered, including two tiger skins,” said Colonel Agus Sutisna, Director of the Special Crimes Unit, Jakarta Police. “The skins were destined for sale to collectors in Indonesia and abroad. This successful operation was a joint collaboration between the Police, the Department of Forestry and NGO partners.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society is actively trying to save tigers in Indonesia and to reduce the damaging impact of illegal wildlife trade.

“We commend the work of the Indonesian police and forestry department in these recent cases for their commitment to uphold and enforce the law,” said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program. “We also commend the courts for the message they send when these cases are tried fairly and sentenced heavily.”

“The illegal trade in wildlife threatens not only iconic animals like the tiger, but also many other endangered species of marine and terrestrial animals,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, director of WCS’s Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program. “It is only through decisive action against those that participate in this illegal trade that we can stamp it out.”

Tigers are killed by hunters to supply the demand for tiger parts such as skins, teeth, bones, hair, etc. These parts are used as souvenirs, in traditional medicine, and as talismans. Many of the tiger parts traded in Indonesia are bound for export to east Asia. Tigers are also killed when they become involved in conflicts with local farmers.

Other wildlife traded illegally from Indonesia includes rhino, elephant, orangutan, birds, bears, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats and sharks.

Stephen Sautner: 1-718-220-3682, ssautner@wcs.org
John Delaney: 1-718-220-3275, jdelaney@wcs.org

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Media Notes

  • In Indonesia, tigers (Panthera tigris) are now only found on the island of Sumatra, where the subspecies is considered a distinct form: the ‘Sumatran Tiger’ (Panthera tigris sumatrae). Former populations in Bali and Java are extinct. The total population of tigers on Sumatra is probably now less than 1,000.
  • WCS works to protect tigers in Sumatra by working alongside the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Indonesian Police, local governments, and local communities.
  • Under Indonesian law it is illegal to kill, possess, buy or sell tigers or their body parts. Violation of the law can carry a fine and/or prison sentence.
  • Members of the Jakarta-based Forum Against Wildlife Trade include Wildlife Conservation Society, ProFauna, Jakarta Animal Aid Network; The Wildlife Advocacy Agency and International Animal Rescue.
  • WCS’s work to address illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in Indonesia is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Rhino Tiger Fund; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Save the Tiger Fund; Tigers Forever, a Panthera project in collaboration with WCS; USAID through the Orangutan Conservation Services Program, and by the World Bank/Global Environment Facility Project ‘Tiger Futures’. Contact details for representatives are available on request.
  • Active WCS tiger conservation projects are underway in southern Sumatra, around Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park of Lampung and Bengkulu Provinces, and northern Sumatra, around the Leuser Ecosystem of Aceh and North Sumatra Provinces.
  • Within these sites, WCS is committed to raising tiger populations by 50 percent within the next 10 years.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation