Saturday, 16 January 2010

Endangered animal trading on the rise

Wahyoe Boediwardhana , The Jakarta Post , Malang | Fri, 01/15/2010 The Jakarta Post

The government is expected to handle more cases involving poaching, trading and smuggling of endangered and protected animal species in Indonesia this year, but on the other hand the fate of the forests, which function as the natural habitat of the animal species, have been further neglected, says an environmentalist.

“The handling of the cases is a crossroads, on one hand they show a rising trend, on the other the government seems to neglect the condition of forests in Indonesia,” said ProFauna International wildlife observer Rosek Nursahid, in Malang.

He added the wildlife cases should have been handled together with the forest as the habitat of the animal species and that more and more forested areas had been damaged or cleared by people, so access to wildlife poaching would be easier.

“The government tends to give industries opportunities to control the forest’s function. We project that the area of wildlife habitat would be further restricted over time.”

He cited the takeover of forests in Malang, East Java, such as the R. Soerjo Community Forest Park in the Mount Arjuna area where forested areas had been converted into farms, forcing endemic wildlife species to flee the area.

“We used to be able to easily find the endemic Javanese lutung monkey in the Mount Arjuna forest, but it is hard to find it in the area now.”

In its 2009 end-of-the-year report, ProFauna announced that trade in protected animal species in Indonesia was still high. The latest ProFauna survey conducted at 70 bird markets in 58 cities in 2009 indicated 183 rare and protected animal species had been traded.

From the dozens, 14 bird markets had traded in the rare cockatoo and parrot, 21 markets trading in primates, 11 trading in mammals and 13 trading in birds of prey.

East Java is recorded as the province trading the most number of protected animals in the country, while the Depok Bird Market in Surakarta, Central Java, as the city trading the highest number of protected wildlife species.

The trade in protected animals in major bird markets in Surabaya, Semarang and Jakarta, is carried out clandestinely.

“The protected animals are not exhibited openly, but covertly in storehouses or the traders’ houses. They would only show the animals to a real buyer,” Rosek said.

Besides Java, the trade in rare animal species also takes place in Sumatra and Bali. In Sumatra, the area the government must pay special attention to is Palembang.

One of the animal trading centers in Palembang is the Pasar 16 Ilir, which trades in various species of rare animals, such as eagles, monkeys, pangolins and slow lorises.

“Palembang is still the center of the pangolin trade in Sumatra.”

Bali, said Rosek, had a thriving wildlife trade, especially in green turtles. Despite a drop in the number of cases compared to before 2000, turtle smuggling to Bali continued to take place.

The latest case was unveiled at the end of May last year when fishermen attempted to smuggle seven turtles into Bali.

There are still at least six illegal turtle breeding locations in Bali as of now operating on the pretext of tourism, most of which are located in Tanjung Benoa.

“This shows that Bali is still the main turtle trade destination in Indonesia,” Rosek said.

A controversial issue arose last year when Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika proposed a quota of 1,000 turtles for the sake of traditional and religious rituals.

In 2009, ProFauna Indonesia observed a number of places which were used as smuggling routes of rare animals outside the country.

They are identified as Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport and Talaud Islands in North Sulawesi.

On March 8, 2009, two Saudi Arabian citizens were arrested for smuggling dozens of protected animals at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

In October 2009, authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 16 eagles and other animals to Japan through Soekarno-Hatta.

Talaud Islands should also be seriously focused because it is still a smuggling route of wildlife to the Philippines through the sea.

Authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle 234 animals through Talaud Islands in January last year.

Based on observation by ProFauna last year, law enforcers were able to uncover 53 cases of trade in wildlife species, which value was estimated at Rp 10 billion.