Police detain members of illegal tiger trading syndicate on Sumatra island, Indonesia | WWF

Police detain members of illegal tiger trading syndicate on Sumatra island, Indonesia

Posted on
21 July 2010
On Saturday, June 17, 2010 a police unit detained two people involved in an illegal trading syndicate focused on the Sumatran tiger in Pekanbaru, Riau Province of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Yoga Rusdiansyah (26) and Hidayat Saldi (45) are under investigation after Yoga was caught in possession of six decapitated tiger heads, five tiger pelts and seven kilograms of tiger bones. The tiger body parts were set to be exported to Malaysia.

According to Sapta Marpaung from the Pekanbaru Police Department, Yoga has become the main suspect after being caught in possession of the evidence, while Hidayat’s role is still under further investigation. The tiger body parts were sent from the Northern Sumatran city of Medan. Yoga was to hand over the package to a middleman for cleaning of the parts and shipping to Malaysia. The whereabouts of the middleman are currently unknown.

Yoga confessed to trading in tiger parts for the past three years, with up to five packages shipped every month. The body parts were sent through land and sea transportation. Trisnu Danisworo, head of Nature Conservation Agency Riau, said that due to the vast and hard to patrol border areas between Indonesia and Malaysia, body parts are often sent this way, as they are harder to track than being sent by air.

According to Osmantri, Tiger Protection Unit and Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Coordinator, the body parts might be from Medan, as it is well known as a shelter for illegal wildlife traffic.

It is estimated that there were 192 Sumatran tigers in Riau in 2007. According to Syamsidar, Communications Manager for WWF-Indonesia’s Riau office, 46 tigers were killed in the region between 1998 and 2009.

“If it is proven that the tiger carcasses obtained by the police originated from Riau, then, sadly, we must add them to the current numbers. The tiger is protected by law in Indonesia, and the Government, business sector, communities – basically everyone – should bear the responsibility to protect this species and its habitat.”

Chairul Saleh, Species and Conservation Expert from WWF-Indonesia, said that the investigation should not stop there.

“This case should be taken to the court, but it is not enough if we only detain the courier. The investigation must unravel these illegal wildlife trafficking syndicates and ensure the culprits receive heavy sentences.”

If proven guilty, the suspect can receive a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah (35,400 US dollars) based on Indonesia’s Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems law.

Dealing with the illegal trade of tigers

The illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts is currently one of the focal issues of the 13 countries that still have wild tiger populations in this Year of the Tiger on the Chinese calendar.

A groundbreaking Declaration on Tiger Conservation drafted by all 13 countries last week in Bali, Indonesia, proposed concrete steps the governments can take in order to reduce this trade. The Declaration is due to be signed by the countries at a global tiger conservation summit held in St. Petersburg, Russia in September this year.  
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