There has been recent successes in the huge archipelago of Indonesian in terms of tiger conservation as officials recently confiscated three tiger skins from a man in Sumatra. These skins are believed to be connected to a much larger wildlife trafficking ring.
News from Banda Aceh in the northern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia comes from the authorities. Law enforcers have been working tirelessly to disrupt a wildlife trafficking ring connected to a man arrested last month (August 2021) with the skins and bones of three Sumatran tigers, a critically endangered species of which only a few hundred remain in the wild, the nation’s forestry ministry announced last week. Along with the tiger skins and bones there were 9 kilograms of pangolin scales confiscated from the same man, identified as AS.
“To stop the illegal trade in live animals and their body parts, what must be pursued is the financier or the main buyer,” said Subhan, the head of the North Sumatra office of the ministry’s law enforcement division.
“But dismantling all of this is not an easy matter. Their network is quite strong.”
One of Indonesia’s iconic species, the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) has struggled to survive amid the destruction of its forest habitat, which has been widely cleared for development, and the onslaught of poachers, who seek the animal’s bones, skin, claws, teeth, blood and more for use in traditional medicines.
A 2015 forestry ministry survey found that only 200 tigers remain in the Leuser Ecosystem, which spans the provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh.
In just one of many recent incidents, a mother tiger and her two cubs were found dead in a snare trap in Aceh in August.
“The main buyers of animal parts are very smart and difficult to detect,” said Panut Hadisiswoyo, the head of the Orangutan Information Network, an NGO that combats wildlife trafficking.
“They don’t involve themselves directly, instead using intermediaries who are very professional.”
AS faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiah ($7,000) under the 1990 Conservation Law. His case was transferred to the Aceh High Prosecutor’s Office.
Separately, police in Aceh said earlier this month that they had arrested 11 men in connection with the killing of five elephants in January 2020. One of them, Edi Murdani, is a prominent wildlife trafficker who was previously imprisoned for a year and a half over his role in a tiger and pangolin trading scheme.
There are of course some wild tigers still remaining in Sumatra and Royle Safaris has some options for tracking and watching Sumatran tigers, if you are interested in these options you can contact us or visit our Indonesian wildlife tour page or even our Tiger safari page.