Monday, 14 September 2009

Zoos linked to protected animal sales

Wahyoe Boediwardhana , THE JAKARTA POST , MALANG | Mon, 09/14/2009 East Java

The government has been urged to audit and check the inventories of at least 10 zoo managements in Java and Sumatra, over fears they may have been involved in illegal trades of protected animals.

The demand was expressed on Sunday in Malang, East Java, following the capture by Jakarta Police of a suspect named Wardi, a noted taxidermist who had reportedly worked in cooperation with almost all zoo managements in Indonesia.

"We obtained copies of transfer documents for protected animal ownership, from the zoos to the suspect," ProFauna Indonesia chairman Rosek Nursahid said.

According to police reports on the trade, animal conservation institutions including Indonesian Safari Park, Pematang Siantar Zoo and Bandung Zoo were involved, Rosek said.

Surabaya Zoo, he said, was also included in the list, but his organization had yet to obtain a copy of the official documents regarding its alleged involvement.

"The only evidence we have is a 2000 film showing an employee at Surabaya Zoo involved in the sale of stuffed skins of a Sumatran tiger *Panthera tigris sumatrae* and a leopard *Panthera pardus*," Rosek said. Among the traded protected animals were Sumatran tigers, orangutans, Malayan tapirs (Tapirus indicus), sun bears (Helarctos malayanus), leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis), birds of paradise (Paradisaea) and Sulawesi bear cuscus (Ailurops ursinus).

Trading protected animals, Rosek said, is a violation of Law No. 5/1990 on the conservation of natural resources and ecosystems.

Separately, in her press statement, the coordinator of the anti-trading forum for protected animals, Irma Hermawati, said that the forum had long found indications of such involvement.

"Serious and tight surveillance of zoo managements is thus urgent to prevent state losses from the trading of protected animals," Irma said.

A similar criticism was expressed by international animal welfare organization the Born Free Foundation. In an email made available to the press, the foundation's program manager Andrina Murrell said the news had surprised her organization very much and urged that such practices be stopped immediately.

Another ProFauna activist, Nursidi, suggested the government place a moratorium on the establishment of new zoos in Indonesia.

"It should not issue any more new licenses for the establishment of zoos, so it can focus more on existing ones," Nursidi said.