Indonesia Cracks Down on Illegal Cyber Trade of Endangered Wildlife

  • Suspect arrested in Jakarta after investigation of internet advertisements of protected wildlife for sale
  • WCS worked in conjunction with Indonesian Police, Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation


JAKARTA, INDONESIA (February 17, 2011) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today a successful raid in Jakarta by Indonesian authorities that resulted in the arrest of a suspect found with hundreds of illegal wildlife items, including elephant ivory, sun bear parts, tiger bones, skins, and teeth, and more.

The suspect was trading from an art shop and using the internet to advertise illegal wildlife parts to domestic and foreign buyers. Parts appear to have been sourced from across Indonesia and were being shipped using courier services.

The raid took place on February 9th and was conducted by the Indonesian Police and Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), working in conjunction with WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit and local partners.

The suspect was identified following an investigation of internet advertisements for protected wildlife originating in Indonesia conducted by WCS and partners in collaboration with the Indonesian Department of Forestry and Police.  The investigation identified a number of suspects, and last week’s arrest represents the start of a crackdown by the authorities.

The internet is a growing medium for the sale of illegal wildlife parts and is proliferating in Indonesia, which now has over 30 million internet users and has the world’s second largest Facebook following.

“If you are trying to sell wildlife online, beware. We will catch you and you will be prosecuted. We are currently investigating a number of cases, and this week’s arrest represents just the first,” said Pak Darori, Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation at the Ministry of Forestry. “The Indonesian Government is committed to stopping illegal wildlife trade wherever it occurs and strengthening its commitments to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The increase in internet advertisements is worrying, but this arrest shows that cyber space is no hiding place.”

Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program, said: “The illegal wildlife trade is a massive threat in Indonesia. Not only to iconic animals like the tiger, elephant, and sun bear, but to many protected species of animals and plants. We commend the work of the Indonesian police and Forestry Department for their commitment to uphold and enforce the law, and to track down and arrest suspects wherever they are operating: be it in a village, a market, or online.”

Joe Walston, Director of WCS’s Asia Programs, said: “This recent raid shows the importance of working closely with law enforcement as a key component in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.  If governments want to protect their wildlife resources, they need to be serious about enforcement.  Clearly Indonesia is taking a lead on this front.”  

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. Elephants are killed for their ivory, which is used in jewelry and ornaments. Sun Bears are killed for their gall bladders and bones, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Other wildlife traded from Indonesia includes rhino, orangutan, birds, orchids, marine and freshwater fish, turtles, fragrant timber, pangolins, coral, snakes, bats, sharks, and rodents, which are traded for food, medicines, skins, biomedical research, souvenirs, and pets.

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.

MEDIA NOTES

  • In Indonesia, tigers (Panthera tigris) are now only found on the island of Sumatra, where the species is considered a distinct form: the ‘Sumatran tiger’ (Panthera tigris sumatrae). Former populations in Bali and Java are extinct. The total population of tigers in Sumatra is probably now less than 1,000 individuals.
  • 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, elephants, sun bears, or their body parts, Violation of the law can carry a fine and/or prison sentence.  
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided support for training and capacity building in law enforcement techniques to staff from WCS and the Government of Indonesia.
  • Active WCS tiger and elephant 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.

Contact:
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

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 

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