Illegal Tiger Traders Feeling the Heat on Indonesian Island of Sumatra

Recent arrests mark the tenth in three months,
equaling the total for the previous three years


NEW YORK (SEPTEMBER 2, 2008) – The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today a successful raid by Indonesian authorities that resulted in four arrests for selling illegal tiger parts.

The raid, part of recent stepped-up efforts by Indonesian authorities to control illegal wildlife trade, marks the tenth arrest for trading in tiger parts in three months, which equals the total amount of arrests for the previous three years.  All cases are now being prosecuted by the Indonesian authorities.

The raid took place on August 26th and recovered tiger bones, skins, teeth, and claws, along with other protected wildlife.  It was conducted by the Indonesian Department of Forestry, Directorate-General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) who worked in conjunction with WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit.  The Unit, created by WCS in 2003, provides data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies to support the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. 

“The Indonesian Government is committed and to stopping illegal wildlife trade and strengthening its commitments to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). We are seeking to put a stop to the capture, possession and trade of protected wildlife in Indonesia” Said Djati Wicaksono, Head of the PHKA Office of Natural Resource Conservation in Medan, who led the raid. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society is actively trying to save tigers in Sumatra.  Other WCS projects seek to reduce habitat loss and prevent conflict between local people and wild tigers.

“Tiger poaching and trade is a massive threat to the survival of this iconic animal,” said Dr Noviar Andayani, Director of the WCS Indonesia Program.  “The long-term survival of this species will require effective action to control illegal poaching, to reduce habitat loss, and to prevent conflict between tigers and local people.”

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.  Much of the tiger parts traded in Indonesia are bound for export to China. Tigers are also killed when they become involved in conflicts with local farmers. 

“While the threat of extinction of tigers is often talked about, preventing this from happening requires real action on the ground such as we are seeing in Indonesia now.  In the areas of Sumatra where we have worked hardest and longest we are starting to see indications that the tiger population is finally recovering,” stated Dr. Andayani.


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 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.
  • WCS’s work is supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Rhino Tiger Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Save the Tiger Fund, and Tigers Forever, a Panthera Foundation project in collaboration with WCS. 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.
  • On 9th June 2008, the World Bank launched a Global Tiger Initiative which brings together many of the global experts who have been studying the decline of tiger populations and the many national and international NGOs which have been fighting to save tigers.

The Wildlife Conservation Societysaves 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

Contact
Stephen Sautner: (              1-347-819-7746       ; ssautner@wcs.org)
John Delaney: (              1-718-220-3275       ; jdelaney@wcs.org)

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