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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

IAR supports police raids in Indonesia

International Animal Rescue in Indonesia is lending its full support to the national police force in its efforts to hunt down members of syndicates involved in the trade in endangered species in the country. The police action follows the arrests in Jakarta last week of five such traders.

Captive Sun bearAlso supporting the raids, which have been launched at ports and airports in major cities and in the habitats of the protected species, are the Forum for Jakarta Wildlife (FSLJ), the Wildlife Conservation Society's Indonesian Programme, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network and ProFauna. These groups are all assisting with information on the syndicates and wildlife collectors in the country.

The raids are being conducted at certain locations that cannot be named because they are still ongoing. Last week, the police caught five traders red-handed offering the pelts of Sumatran tigers, leopards and sun bears at Rawabening Market in Jakarta.

Wildlife groups are accusing buyers and collectors, mostly businesspeople, of contributing to the decimation of numerous protected species in the country, saying the increasing demand has encouraged the poaching and illegal trade in the wildlife. They are calling for harsh penalties to be imposed on anyone collecting endangered species.

Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: "We need to send out a strong message to traders and collectors of endangered species that they are committing a serious crime that will be severely punished. "

The FSLJ said the poaching of sun bears was widespread in Sumatra, where they were traded in Aceh, Medan, Padang, Bengkulu and Jambi, while leopards were hunted in East Java and traded in Surabaya, Jakarta and Bali.

A tiger pelt can sell for up to Rp 10 million, and that of a sun bear for around Rp 15 million.

It seems most dealers supply their goods directly to their selected buyers to avoid arrest, with the transactions normally conducted underground. Many traders pay villagers to poach the animals after stirring up fear among them that wildlife is a common enemy that has to be killed before it can kill villagers or damage crops.

ProFauna has identified 10 cities where wildlife, mainly tigers and elephants, are illegally traded.