On July 17, 2010, police detained two people involved in the Sumatran tiger illegal trading syndicate in Pekanbaru, Riau Province of Sumatra. Yoga Rusdiansyah, 26, and Hidayat Saldi, 45, are under investigation. Yoga was caught with six decapitated tiger heads, five tiger pelts and seven kilograms of tiger bones. The tiger body parts were set to be exported to Malaysia. Based on Yoga’s testimony, he has conducted illegal activities for three years with up to five packages sent in one month. Hidayat’s status is still under further investigation.
The operation was very complex and included involvement from multiple people. The tiger parts were sent by a man named Edi from Medan. Hidayat received the information from Edi and then notified Yoga, the courier of the parts. Yoga handed the package to Gito, another middleman, to clean the body parts before they were sent to Malaysia. Gito’s whereabouts are still unknown.
The body parts were sent through land and sea transportation. When asked about this matter, Head of Nature Conservation Agency Riau, Trisnu Danisworo, said that it is harder for the agency to track illegal body parts transported by land compared to air because of the vast border areas between Indonesia and Malaysia.
In 2007, 192 Sumatran tigers were estimated to be living in Riau. WWF’s use of camera and video traps has recorded at least 30 of them in four areas: Tesso Nilo, Kerumutan, Rimbang Baling and the corridor between Rimbang Baling and Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.
Nevertheless, 46 tigers have been killed from 1998-2009. “This data is what we have on record. It has been proven that the tiger carcasses obtained by the police originated from Riau, and should be added to the numbers. We really regret this because tigers are protected by law in Indonesia. The government, business sectors, communities, basically everyone, should be responsible for protecting this animal and its habitat,” stated Syamsidar from WWF-Indonesia.
Chairul Saleh, species and conservation expert from WWF-Indonesia, said that the investigation should not stop here. “This case should be taken to court; it is not enough if we only detain the courier. The investigation must unravel the illegal wildlife trafficking syndicate, not only across provinces, but also across national boundaries until the culprits are found and sentenced.”
If proven guilty, the suspects can be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined 100 million rupiah (11,000 US dollars).
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