Indonesia: Endangered animals smuggled

The Jakarta Post 18 Oct 16;

Endangered species are smuggled abroad via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, using school backpacks, suitcases and children’s toys to fool airport officers, an official said on Monday.

The Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency chief, Banun Harpini, said as many as 58 snakes, two turtles and a lizard that were intended to be delivered to Australia, China, Malaysia and the Philippines had been seized by the airport’s officials from July to October.

“Among the 58 snakes, there were rattlesnakes, which could endanger flights if they escaped,” Banun said as quoted by kompas.com, adding that most of the animals were identified as protected and critically endangered species.

Following the findings, Banun ensured that the agency, in cooperation with other relevant agencies including airport management, would tighten supervision of live animal shipments.

Schoolbags and Toys Popular Methods for Smuggling Animals Overseas
Andri Donnal Putera Jakarta Globe 17 Oct 16;

Jakarta. As the authorities step up efforts to detect and prosecute wildlife crimes, smugglers turn to ever more creative methods to disguise their shady dealings. This includes smuggling animals through postal services and hiding them inside suitcases, schoolbags, toys and even speakers.

"Based on the data from July to October this year, we found 58 snakes, two tortoises and a lizard, mailed to China, Australia, the Philippines and Malaysia," Banun Harpini, head of the Agriculture Quarantine Agency at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, told Kompas.com on Monday (17/10).

"Among those was a venomous snake, which could easily have disrupted a flight because [the smugglers] just used a schoolbag," he said.

This has become a popular method for smugglers because of the tighter regulations imposed at the airport.

After identifying the confiscated animal, Banun said the agency must determine if it belongs to a species that is protected under the law, or listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The Agriculture Quarantine Agency has also confiscated 1.7 kilograms of vegetable seeds originating from Incheon, South Korea, 3.7 kilograms of rice seeds from China, and 25 date seedlings from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Banun said his office will continue to tighten monitoring activities, as well as coordinate with institutions involved in the prevention of the illegal wildlife trade.

A snake was discovered on a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jayapura, West Papua to Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport on Oct. 11, according to Wartakota.com.

The airline's senior public relations manager confirmed the incident, but said it was quickly handled by the cabin crew."

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