Suspected tiger smuggler arrested following WWF, BKSDA investigation
PEKANBARU — A suspected tiger smuggler has been arrested in West Sumatra, Indonesia, following a three-day investigation by the Natural Resource Conservation Agency in Riau and West Sumatra Province (BKSDA), with support from WWF Indonesia's Tiger Protection Unit. The investigation also resulted in the seizure of the skin of an adult male tiger believed to have been poisoned inside or near a wildlife reserve in Sumatra's Riau Province.
After receiving a report on 28 February that a poacher had poisoned a tiger near Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve in Kampar District, BKSDA Riau and WWF Riau's Tiger Protection Unit staked out the area in Kampar District for two days.
"Our goal was not only to help government arresting the local poacher, but to see if we could track the tiger carcass to someone higher up in the smuggling network," said Chairul Saleh, Wildlife Conservation Specialist with WWF Indonesia.
"We need to break the smuggling networks that are decimating our Sumatran tiger population, so we have to go as high up the ladder as possible."
BKSDA Riau tracked a courier suspected of picking up a piece of Sumatran tiger skin and bones from the poached tiger to Balung, a border area located between Riau and West Sumatra province. The courier was later seen handing over the tiger skin to the suspect, who travelled to Payakumbuh, West Sumatra. BKSDA West Sumatra was then called to join the operation.
After detecting the smell of chemicals often used to preserve tiger skins at the suspect's house, a WWF Tiger Patrol Unit member was able to locate the skin. The tiger’s bones, which are highly valued on the black market for their supposed medicinal value, were not recovered. Other wildlife was also discovered in the house, including a live python and body parts of a Serrow (a local species of mountain goat) and muntjac, or barking deer, according to BKSDA.
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photo courtesy of Erizal / WWF Indonesia