Police arrest poacher for brutally killing tiger
Jon Afrizal , THE JAKARTA POST , Jambi Thu, 09/03/2009 11:28 AM The Archipelago
Police have arrested a man suspected of brutally killing a Sumatran tiger in its zoo enclosure in Jambi last month.
Senior police officer Adj, Comr. Aswini Nawawi said Wednesday that the suspect had been identified as Syamsudin, known better as Udin Bolu.
Aswini said the man was among poachers who broke into the enclosure last month, killing and skinning the tiger, known as Sheila.
They used drugged meat to sedate the tiger, then killed her, officials at the zoo claimed.
"We have only just managed to arrest one of the killers," Aswini said.
"He will be taken to the crime scene to try and piece together some of the events."
Udin was captured last Thursday evening at his house in the Muarojambi regency, Palembang, South Sumatra. He was a known thug and had been in jail several times before for various crimes.
Aswini said preliminary investigations suggested that the attack was bankrolled by a businessman from Palembang.
During police questioning, Udin said he had received an order from an unidentified buyer in Palembang for the rare tiger skin, and soon hatched a plan to break into the zoo and kill the animal for its hide.
After collecting the skin and valuable organs and bones, Udin left for Palembang by bus, where he sold it to a broker for Rp 1 million.
The identity of the broker is still unclear, hampering police efforts to unravel a potential syndicate of poachers and buyers.
Udin has been charged under Article 40 of the 1990 law on the conservation of natural resources, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
He also faces a criminal charge under Article 363 of the Criminal Code regarding theft.
Sheila, the only Sumatran tiger at the Jambi zoo, was skinned within the enclosure, with organs and bones of no value left behind.
Detectives investigating the case suspected the thieves poisoned the female tiger and slaughtered her in the early hours when the zoo is virtually unguarded and poorly lit.
The police found remnants of meat laced with anaesthetics and intestinal parts of the protected animal littered around the cage.
Authorities believe the tiger's valuable organs will be sold on the black market, which thrives for rare animal parts.
The production of Chinese medicines in particular, where the bones and organs or rare animals are used as pain killers and aphrodisiacs, are often where these slaughtered animals wind up being of value.
Head of the Jambi natural resources conservation agency, Didy Wurjanto, said the cage had been left unlocked to allow zoo keepers to feed the tiger.
Sheila had been living in the enclosure for 20 years, having been born at Ragunan zoo in Jakarta and transferred.
Sheila was part of a conservation program run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to save the Sumatran tiger, a subspecies which is listed as critically-endangered. Sheila was also one of the rarest animal specimens at Jambi zoo, and allowed zoo keepers to teach visitors about conservation.