Monday, 25 February 2008

Indonesian Police To Undergo Training To Combat Forest Looting

Indonesian Police To Undergo Training To Combat Forest Looting

Source: DPA - February 18, 2008

Jakarta: Senior field officers in the Indonesian National Police are to undergo training aimed at cracking down on wildlife smugglers and illegal loggers, who are threatening the country's biodiversity and natural resources, a regional wildlife alliance said Monday.

The training over the next two and a half weeks is on how to detect and arrest members of organized crime syndicates looting the nation's forests, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wildlife Enforcement Network said in a statement.

"It's great news for Indonesia that the police have committed to work with other agencies to protect the country's wildlife and forests," said Steve Galster, director of field operations for PeunPa and the Wildlife Alliance, conservation groups that support the ASEAN network. "Laws exist to protect endangered species and ecosystems."The fate of Indonesia's wildlife and forests has been in the global spotlight in recent weeks after the discovery that the population of critically endangered Sumatran tigers had plummeted because of poaching and illegal wildlife sales.

Researchers had found tiger bones, claws, skins and whiskers being sold openly in eight cities on Sumatra despite laws banning such trade. The Sumatran tiger is the world's most endangered tiger subspecies with fewer than 500 of the big cats remaining in the wild.

To improve capacity to detect and prevent these and other crimes involving wildlife and forests, Indonesian police officers are to join forestry and customs officers for nature crime investigations training at the National Police's criminal investigations training centre in Bogor, West Java.

Galster said officials hope the intensive Wildlife Crime Investigation Course would pave the way for more joint training to help the government tackle poaching and smuggling networks. The ASEAN wildlife network involves the law enforcement agencies of all 10 ASEAN countries and facilitates cross-border collaboration in the fight against illegal wildlife trade in the region.

Indonesia is a global hotspot for trade in wild animals and plants. It is second only to Brazil in richness of biodiversity. Its forests are also under threat from illegal and unregulated logging.

Once abundant in Indonesia, species such as tigers, orang-utans and rhinoceros are now close to extinction because of a lethal combination of habitat destruction, persistent poaching and smuggling, weak enforcement and lack of public awareness.