Indonesia: Poor Deterrent Blamed for Rising Wildlife Crimes

Over 100 Sumatran orangutans are smuggled out of Indonesia every year. (Antara Photo/Yiari/Heribertus)
Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 3 Feb 17;

Jakarta. Indonesia's anti-money laundering agency, the PPATK, has claimed that wildlife crime offenders keep coming back to the game in Indonesia due to poor deterrent for such a serious crime.

Not that the government is not aware of the issue, especially of the fact that wildlife crimes carry a maximum penalty of only a two-year imprisonment.

The government is now proposing a revision of its Law No. 5/1990 on Biodiversity and Its Ecosystem so that wildlife crime offenders could be sentenced to more than five years in prison and given a penalty of more than Rp 100 million ($7,500).

The agency has also pointed out that wildlife crime cases in Indonesia are often tied to money laundering.

"Environmental crime is a type of crime that is often associated with money laundering. It's usually tied to cases of fraud, forgery, violence or corruption," Beren Rukur Ginting of the Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) said in a statement on Friday (03/02).

Beren said wildlife crimes should not be taken lightly, in fact, they are classified as a type of organized crime and often involve transnational transactions.

According to a research by the Environmental Education Network in 2014, the country loses Rp 9 trillion annually from illegal wildlife trade, with wildlife crimes ranked as the third largest type of crime behind drug and human trafficking.

"Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade are the main catalysts for the extinction of Indonesia’s endemic animal species in Sumatra," Anwar Purwoto, the Sumatra director of WWF Indonesia, said.

"Huge profits are made from the sale of endangered animals’ body parts. The money goes to the poachers, ring leaders, taxidermists, exporters and eventually to the buyer."

Statistics from WWF Indonesia indicate that the country’s endemic animals have suffered terribly from wildlife crimes, with eight tonnes of ivory from Sumatran elephants sold in the past 10 years, over 100 orangutans smuggled out of the country annually and more than 2,000 slow lorises illegally sold in Java every year or snuck out of the country.

About 2,000 pangolins are also exported illegally every month, and over a million turtle eggs sold in markets all over the country every year.

But online marketplaces are quickly becoming the most popular platform for illegal wildlife trade.

"74 orangutans have been reported to be sold online, and 15 tigers were found to have been sold via a Facebook page," Anwar added.

In an effort to stem wildlife crimes, WWF Indonesia and Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment and Forestry held a two-day workshop in Medan, North Sumatra, starting on Thursday, to push for stricter law enforcement on wildlife crimes and their supply chains.

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