Vet Submits Petition to Police Urging Crackdown on Online Wildlife Trade

BY :BASTEN GOKKON

OCTOBER 07, 2015

Jakarta. In the latest blow to the online trade of endangered animal parts, an Indonesian veterinarian has submitted an online petition to the National Police after garnering the support of over 28,000 signatories nationwide.

In late September, Wisnu Wardana established a petition via Change.org against three local e-commerce websites that facilitate the sale of products advertised as made of ivory.

As the petition went viral on social media and surpassed the 25,000 signatures it needed, the three online sale platforms  Lazada.co.id, Bukalapak.com and Tokopedia.com  immediately issued statements denouncing the practice, saying they had closed down the offending accounts.

On Wednesday, the vet filed his petition with the police's detectives unit urging them to probe the widespread network of online trade of endangered wildlife.

"I hope the police detectives can crack down on this kind of operation so that there will be no more animal deaths, like that of Yongki, from wildlife hunting and trade," Wisnu said in a WWF-Indonesia statement obtained by the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

He was referring to the mysterious and gruesome murder of a male Sumatran elephant in early September, whose remains were discovered without the tusks. Yongki's tongue was also blue  a sign of poisoning.

The death of Yongki extended the list of Indonesian elephants murdered from poaching to 208 in 16 years, according to WWF-Indonesia.

"We urge the police to hand down the heaviest punishment to sellers of wildlife products and call on other online retail websites in Indonesia to implement tighter regulations that can prevent illegal products from being traded on their platforms," Fathi Hanif, an advocacy manager at WWF-Indonesia, said in the statement.

Hanif urged the Indonesian government and the House of Representatives to complete a revised bill of the country's dated 1990 Law on Biodiversity Conservation by 2016, to improve wildlife protection in the vast and rich jungles across the archipelago.

WWF-Indonesia noted that of the 22 deaths reported on Sumatran elephants in the past three years, less than half faced court trials and perpetrators received a maximum sentence of one year in prison. The conservation law could see perpetrators face five years maximum in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million ($7,253).

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court lacks judges who have mastered environmental law and related issues, with only 219 judges from the 4,000 currently sitting country-wide having received training on the subject.

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