Illegal trade in Sumatran tigers, body parts remains widespread
Jon Afrizal - The Jakarta Post - Jambi
Fri, 09/04/2009 2:26 PM The Archipelago
The illegal trade in Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatraensis) and their body parts in Jambi province has gone on unabated and has caused the tiger population to dwindle year by year.
"If this is tolerated, tigers will be extinct in Jambi within the next few years," Jambi province Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) head Didy Wurjanto said.
Didy said the number of tigers in the province stood at around 50 a few years ago and they lived in four national parks and production forests in the province.
"The number has dropped to only 20 this year," he said.
He said his office had processed 10 cases of illegal trading in Sumatran tigers this year that led to the prosecution of poachers and traders dealing in tiger parts.
Four tiger pelt traders were caught red-handed conducting transactions in August and November in Jambi city this year.
"The largest number of traders are found in Jambi city. They usually wait there for the tigers to be handed over by professional hunters operating in the national parks and production forests," said Didy.
If authorities failed to stop them, the tiger pelts would be brought to Jakarta to be sold to clients for exorbitant prices.
At the local level, the price of a tiger pelt could be Rp 35 million (about US$3,500) but once it has reached Jakarta it could sell for up to Rp 75 million. A stuffed tiger could fetch Rp 100 million.
The fangs and the reproductive organs of a tiger are sold separately. A fang could go for Rp 20 million each, while a tiger penis could fetch the same.
Didy did not deny that the illegal trade in Sumatran tigers involved a tight network. Poachers usually seek information from the local residents living around the forests.
The poachers have obviously lured residents into providing them with information about the location of tigers with cash, willing to offer Rp 500,000 for fresh tiger tracks, indicating a tiger is still in the location.
"This certainly tempts residents," he said.
If the poachers are able to catch a tiger, it will be taken to a trader in Jambi city who will sort out the tiger based on orders, such as for fangs, penises, pelts or in stuffed form.
Buyers come from various circles, mainly those who regard tigers as a symbol of strength, charisma and power.
"Such a myth should be dismissed, because it could encourage rampant poaching," said Didy.
He added the Jambi BKSDA was equipped with a Rapid Response Forest Ranger unit (SPORC) which is authorized to arrest and investigate those involved in the illegal trade in endangered animal species.
The SPORC has handed over suspects' case files to prosecutors to serve as a deterrent and prevent them from repeating their crimes.
Last week, police arrested a suspect, Syamsuddin, for the stealing and brutal killing of a Sumatran tiger from its zoo enclosure in Jambi.