Indonesia: Police on the Hunt for Illegal Loggers in Tesso Nilo National Park

Jakarta Globe 19 Sep 16;

Jakarta. Police are currently looking for several suspects who were allegedly involved in illegal logging operations inside the Tesso Nilo National Park in Pelalawan, Riau province. This follows the arrest of a truck driver for transporting illegally harvested timber on Sunday (18/09).

"The driver is currently undergoing intensive questioning. However, we have found several suspects involved in illegal logging," Pelalawan Police criminal investigation unit head Assistant Comr. Herman Pelani said on Monday.

The 34-year-old a driver, only identified by the initials B.E.P., was arrested when he reported the loss of his truck, which had been confiscated by police earlier after receiving a tipoff that it was used to carry illegal timber.

The suspect claimed that he did not know the timber was illegal and told the police that someone ordered him to transport it.

"This is what we still need to find out. Who gave him the orders and who owns the timber," Herman said.

The Tesso Nilo National Park is an easy target for trespassers. According to the park management, there is freehold title on 5,000 hectares of the land in the park, but trespassing has occurred on more than 53,000 hectares of natural forest in the area.

"Trespassing still continues. Most of the national park area has been used for other purposes, such as palm oil plantations," Tesso Nilo National Park head Darmanto said. "This has become a problem in the park and it's getting harder to resolve. It's hard to return the land to conservation areas as there are so many people who have received freehold title on it."

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