Tuesday 24 November 2015

INDONESIA: First-ever Conviction For Orangutan Trafficking In Aceh

A wildlife trafficker who was caught trying to sell three baby orangutans on Facebook was sentenced to two years imprisonment and fined 50 million rupiah ($3,653) in Indonesia’s Aceh province last week.

The man, a 29-year-old university student named Rahmadani, was arrested in a sting on August 1. Besides the Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), authorities found him with two red-backed sea eagles (Haliastur indus); a great argus (Argusianus argus), which is a type of pheasant; and a taxidermied Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi).

“Hopefully the conviction serves as a deterrent for would-be perpetrators of environmental crimes, including traffickers of protected plants and animals,” said Genman Hasibuan, head of the Aceh branch of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), which assisted in the sting.

“This verdict is the first such conviction in Aceh,” said Panut Hadisiswoyo, director of the Orangutan Information Center, which also helped track the man. “It is an important milestone for law enforcement efforts in regard to environmental crimes in Aceh.”

However, Panut said the man should have received a stronger sentence. The maximum penalty for wildlife trafficking under the 1990 Conservation Law is five years imprisonment and a 100 million rupiah fine.

He noted that in neighboring North Sumatra province in July, a man who was caught trying to sell just one baby orangutan was sentenced to two years behind bars and a 10 million rupiah fine.

“That proves that wildlife trafficking cases are not being taken seriously by the courts, even though these creatures represent priceless natural assets for Indonesia,” he said.

Aceh is a major source for trafficked Sumatran orangutans, a critically endangered species of which about 6,000 remain in the wild.

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