Polda Bengkulu (Bengkulu Police) supported by Polres Kaur (District Police), the Government of Indonesia, WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit (WCU), TRAFFIC, and the Rhino Protection Unit (RPU) announced today the arrest of an Asian elephant ivory trader.
The arrest was led by Police Adjunct Commissioner Kusnul Komar, S.Ik from Subdit Tipiter Dit Krimsus, Bengkulu Police, and took place in Bintuhan, a small city located in Northern Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Bintuhan is a notorious transit point for ivory, tiger skins and other wildlife contraband. The confiscated items included seven various carved ivory smoking pipes and three swagger sticks (canes).
The arrested alleged ivory trader and smuggler, initialed MAN, ordered ivory from local dealers in Riau and Lampung (Krui). The carved ivory pieces were then to be distributed to South Sumatra, Bengkulu, Lampung, and Jakarta (Java). Under the Indonesian law, trafficking ivory is punishable with a penalty of five years maximum imprisonment and a maximum fine of USD $10,000.
Based on the current local black market prices, the price of raw ivory is USD $1,100 per kg. The trader allegedly sold at least 1.5 kilograms of ivory pipes per month. It takes one whole tusk to make two swagger sticks. He confessed that he has sold at least 30 sticks (each 60 centimetres in length) over the last five years. The total value of the confiscated evidence is USD $7,000.
Based on the evidence retrieved during the arrest, the raw and carved ivories were transported in a specific rental car in Bengkulu to avoid detection from the police and Customs.
According to Police Senior Commissioner Roy Hadi Siahaan, Director of Special Crime, Bengkulu Police, investigators are still working on the case to unravel the ivory trade syndicate and track the hunting locations. The Bengkulu police will also respond to any information related to illegal wildlife trafficking to protect animals from illegal exploitation in Indonesia.
Said Joe Walston,Vice President of WCS Field Conservation Programs: “This arrest sends a clear message that wildlife trafficking in Indonesia will not be tolerated. We congratulate our partners for their hard work in arresting the alleged trader and we look forward to a swift trial, and, if found guilty, a strong sentence that will serve as a strong warning to other potential traders.”
Said Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia: “Throughout its range, the Asian Elephant is endangered, but the populations in Sumatra are under greater threat than most. TRAFFIC is very encouraged to see the authorities in Indonesia take such swift and decisive actions against illegal ivory dealers, and they are to be congratulated. Only through efforts like this will we see an end to the relentless poaching and illegal trade.”
The RPU Law Enforcement Coordinator, Ujang, said that the trend of using ivory for smoking pipes and swagger sticks has increased significantly. However, the efforts to combat ivory trade are costly, and at least 10 percent of arrested ivory traders are repeat offenders due to light punishment and high profit margin from ivory trafficking.
WCS’s Wildlife Crimes Unit is supported by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Fondation Segré, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Multinational Species Conservation Funds, and the AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan’s Tiger Conservation Campaign.