Stopping Orangutan Poaching a Matter of Enforcing the Law

29 February 2012

Panut Hadisiswoyo, the Founding Director of the Orangutan Information Centre - our partners in Sumatra, speaks out in an article in the Jakarta Globe about the illegal trade in orangutans in Sumatra, and the need for greater enforcement of the laws that exist to protect endangered species in Indonesia.

We have been closely watching the progress of a court case in Sumatra for the illegal trade of a three-year-old orangutan. On February 9th, a local man was sentenced to eight months in prison and fined Rp 7 million ($780) for conspiring to sell an orangutan stolen from the Gunung Leuser National Park. Although this is a lenient punishment, it is still a groundbreaking ruling - the first ever prosecutionof an orangutan trader in Sumatra.

It is hoped that the successful prosecution will act as a deterrent to other would-be traders.

Panut says, of the court case:

This is only the second ever conviction for the illegal trade in orangutans in Indonesia, and the first in Sumatra.  The local man was found guilty of trying to sell the orangutan, which was believed to have been poached from the Gunung Leuser National Park.

Despite orangutans being strictly protected under Indonesian law, there have been more than 2,500 confiscations of illegally held orangutans in Indonesia since the 1970s. The first conviction for illegally keeping an orangutan happened in West Kalimantan in 2010; the ‘owner' was sentenced to one year in jail and a one million Rupiah fine.

The punishment in this recent case in Sumatra was very light. It has been illegal to kill, capture, keep or trade any protected species or their body parts since 1990, with the maximum penalty being a jail term of 5 years and a 100 million Rupiah fine (equivalent to around $10,000 US dollars). The 8 month jail term given in this case implies that the Indonesian court system is not taking their own laws seriously. 

Taking real action to prevent further forestry crime could be one of the most effective ways to help the conservation of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. 

These pictures show Julius, the orangutan being traded in the above-mentioned court case, and the back on one of our OranguVans, with a message warning of the penalties for catching, killing, trading, or owning protected wildlife species, including orangutans - the maximum sentence is 5 years in jail and a 100 million rupiah fine.

Julius2 back of oranguvan

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