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Tiger Traders Arrested in Leuser Landscape, Indonesia

23 March 2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society News Release

NEW YORK – The Aceh Provincial Police, Bireun District Police (Polres Bireun), and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU) announced today an enforcement action in a case involving trade in tiger parts. One perpetrator, arrested in Bireun, Aceh, Sumatra, on March 18, 2016, was linked to a second, who later turned himself in.

The arrest was led by Police Brigadier Julian Zaeri and both provincial and district police. The operation involved a transaction for two fresh Sumatran tiger cub skins and four kilograms of tiger bones, including one tiger skull. The suspect allegedly traded tiger parts in Aceh after buying them from a supplier in Takengon.

The supplier had previously been arrested in January of 2014 in possession of stuffed tigers, a stuffed clouded leopard, bear fangs, helmeted hornbill casques, and stuffed Sumatran serow. He had recently been released after serving 12 months in prison and paying a fine of USD 759.00.

After the dealer’s arrest, police used the trader’s phone to track the supplier to his home town of Takengong. The supplier’s family convinced the suspect to turn himself in on March 22nd.

Police Adjunct Senior Commissioner Mirwazi from Aceh Police said: “Based on police interrogation, the perpetrator claimed a connection to national tiger syndicate networks— especially in Leuser Landscape.”

Aceh Police is working with civil society to conduct law enforcement operations. In 2014 and 2015, Aceh Police handled 15 and 10 wildlife cases respectively. This arrest is the first case in 2016.

In addition to enforcement work, the Aceh police, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and NGOs conduct awareness programs to disseminate wildlife regulations and issue a hotline number to receive poaching and trading information from the community.

Country Director WCS-Indonesia Program, Dr. Noviar Andayani said: “WCS appreciates the Aceh Police’s rapid response in arresting the perpetrator. Supporting law enforcement actions is a part of WCS’s strategy to make sure that Sumatran Tigers are protected in their habitat. This strategy should be supported by not only the police and Ministry of Environment and Forestry, but also the civil society and community. The arrest should create a deterrent effect for the perpetrator and other would-be illegal wildlife traders.”

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a critically endangered tiger sub-species and can only be found in Indonesia. Based on the 2015 IUCN Redlist, the population of Sumatran tiger has declined to 300 individuals. Sumatran tiger poaching and trading is regulated under article 40 paragraph 2 injunction to article 21 paragraph 2 on Law no. 5/ 1990 on Natural Resources and Other Ecosystem Conservation. The violators are subjected to a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine of USD 10,000.

WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit is supported by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Fondation Segré, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Multinational Species Conservation Funds, AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan’s Tiger Conservation Campaign, and the UK Government’s IWT Challenge Fund.

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