Jakarta. Four men, linked to international illegal wildlife traders, were arrested by police in South Halmahera’s Southeast Gane subdistrict, North Maluku, for smuggling 125 parrots, a local official said on Wednesday (15/11).
The smuggled parrots include 41 white cockatoos and 84 eclectus parrots. Six eclectus parrots and one cockatoo reportedly die.
The arrest was made by subdistict police in cooperation with the Wild Crimes Unit (WCU) on Monday. The four suspects, identified only as AA, LB, YN and JN, were arrested at different locations in North Maluku on the same day.
"We have successfully managed the arrest of the perpetrators in cooperation with WCU. We will keep investigating this illegal wildlife trading network in a bid to protect the environment in South Halmahera," Adj. Sr. Comr. Irfan Satya Prajasa Marpaung, chief of South Halmahera Police, said as quoted in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
According to police, some of the birds were already stuffed into plastic polymer (PVC) pipes. The four suspects are allegedly linked to illegal wildlife traders in the Philippines, Irfan said.
Dwi Adhiasto of WCU said that police exposed illegal parrot trading networks domestically and abroad.
"Before being marketed to the Middle East, Europe and other Asian countries, it is believed that North Sulawesi, the Philippines and Batam are the transit [destinations] of this illegal wildlife trade," Dwi said.
Dwi emphasized that stuffing birds into PVC pipes or plastic bottles helps smugglers evade the authorities as well as to keep the animals’ energy stable for long-haul travel.
He added that this method can cause stress and injuries to the birds.
Noviar Andayani, country director of Wildlife Conservation Society, expressed her appreciation for the South Halmahera Police for its rapid action in handling crimes against wildlife.
"We hope prosecutors will charge the perpetrators in accordance with applicable regulations since we noticed they have treated the birds in a cruel manner and also intended to trade a large quantity," Noviar said.
Meanwhile, Indra Exploitasia Semiawan, director of forest safeguard at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the illegal hunting and trading of parrots already occurs at an alarming rate.
Indra has urged the House of Representatives to immediately complete the revision of the 1990 Law on conservation of living natural resources and their ecosystems to grant greater punishments to deter illegal wildlife hunters and traders.
He explained that according to the government's regulation in 1999 on preserving flora and fauna species, parrots are still not listed in a category of animals that are protected under Indonesian law. He said the ministry will soon include parrots into the protective category.
"In the future, we will keep monitoring, with several parties, and take precautionary measures against wildlife hunting in natural habitats to repress illegal hunting and trade activities. We will also be guarding the conservation efforts in their habitat," Indra added.
In the 1999 regulation, the government only included 93 types of birds under the protected list.