Jakarta. Officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry have arrested a 32-year-old man for his alleged involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.
Members of the ministry's rapid response unit posing as buyers arrested the suspect, only identified by the initials M.I., at his home in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, on Monday afternoon (05/02).
The ministry said in a statement that the arrest came after reports by members of the public that the suspect was selling body parts of protected Sumatran tigers and sun bears on Facebook.
Officials seized several pieces of evidence, including a tiger skin rug, tiger claw necklace, four tiger claws, two tiger skin wallets, two tiger paws with claws removed, two tiger skin waist straps, a tiger skin sling bag, five sun bear fangs, three sun bear claws with ornamental rings and a sun bear claw necklace.
They also confiscated a smartphone belonging to the suspect, who works as a satay seller.
Investigations are still continuing to determine the origin of the animals and identify potential accomplices.
Need for Greater Public Awareness
Edward Sembiring, head of the ministry's law enforcement unit in Sumatra, urged greater public awareness of the fact that hunting and trading in protected species is illegal.
"We hope this arrest will have a deterrent effect. If there is anyone still desperate enough to get involved in this, our agency, along with other institutions, will arrest and punish them in accordance with regulations," Edward told the Jakarta Globe by phone on Tuesday.
The suspect could face up to five years in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million ($7,500), as prescribed by the 1990 Law on the Conservation of Living Resources and Their Ecosystems and a 1999 government regulation on preserving flora and fauna.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Sumatran tiger as critically endangered, while the sun bear is listed as vulnerable.
The two populations have been in steady decline due to the illegal wildlife trade and deforestation, which ramped up in recent years.