Indonesia arrests poachers trafficking Sumatran Tiger fetuses for Chinese medicine

Sumatran tigers are found only in the Sumatran Island and are listed as a critically endangered species

Indonesian officials arrested five poachers who had four Sumatran tiger fetuses in a plastic jar and an adult tiger skin in their possession. A team from the Environment and Forestry Ministry were tipped off about suspected poaching by locals in Teluk Binjai Village, in the country's Pelalawan District of Sumatra, the ministry told Antara.

The poachers were caught on Saturday from two different places in the Riau province after the police received an anonymous tip-off. In the inspection, five people were arrested and three were charged with trafficking of protected animals. Sumatran tigers are found only in the Sumatran Island and are listed as critically endangered. It is believed that only 400-600 of the specimens are known to be surviving.

Poachers could face five years jail term

Sumatran Tiger
Sumatran Tiger, SCIENTIFIC NAME: Panthera tigris sumatrae (Critically Endangered) (Picture for Reference) Reuters

If the poachers are convicted, they could face up to five years in jail and be fined up to 100 million Indonesian rupiahs. The poachers said that the mothers of the fetuses were sold to buyers involved in the buying of tiger body parts, and the fetuses did not have any relation with the tiger skin. The three poachers had different roles to play in conducting the crime.

Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine

One of the major reasons for the extinction and endangerment of wildlife in this region is the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which uses animals organs and bones for medicinal purposes.

The World Wildlife Fund says that most tigers in Sumatra are killed deliberately for commercial gains. According to a survey by TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, poaching for trade is responsible for almost 80 percent of the tiger's death which amounts up to 40 animals per year.

Indonesia is a country with a number of diverse species including the Orangutan, Sumatran elephants, and the Sumatran rhinos. The Riau province, situated in the eastern part of Sumatra, has been seeing an increase in the number of man-tiger incidents. Heart-tugging cries of orphaned rhino or tiger cubs that have lost their mothers are quite common in these regions.

The Tigers' habitat is being destroyed while the human settlement in this region is seeing a rise of industries and expansion of agricultural lands. The WWF also says that there is no considerable amount of decrease in poaching since 1991 despite the measures taken by Indonesia.

The police are investigating the link between the poachers to the prospective buyers and keeping them as witnesses to find out their respective roles in the poaching syndicate.

This article was first published on December 9, 2019
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