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Jakarta Post

Strict law enforcement needed to protect endemic species

  • Syamsul Huda M. Suhari

    The Jakarta Post

Gorontalo   /   Mon, December 9, 2013   /  09:47 am

The North Sulawesi Natural Resources Conservation Center'€™s (BKSDA) Gorontalo section has urged the North Sulawesi provincial administration to issue a special bylaw to curb the widespread culinary trade in protected wildlife.

Gorontalo BKSDA head Hendrik Rundangan said the bylaw was necessary given the rate of wildlife poaching, which was especially high among protected and endemic species.

'€œThe meat of the endemic babirusa, anoa and Sulawesi monkey is traded freely, especially at the Langowan market in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, some 500 kilometers from Gorontalo,'€ Hendrik said recently.

He said most animals sold at the Langowan '€œextreme culinary'€ market came from conservation areas in Gorontalo, such as the Nantu Wildlife Refuge.

Additionally, according to a BKSDA study, meat from other species sold at the market came from as far away as South Sulawesi and Kendari in Southeast Sulawesi.

He said poachers smuggled the meat in boxes filled with ice by private car, eluding authorities. '€œThis is a new mode of operation. Previously, smugglers transported the animal carcasses by pickup truck,'€ said Hendrik.

The rate of poaching usually increases ahead of Christmas and New Year, as residents of North Sulawesi eat exotic wildlife meat as a tradition to celebrate the holiday season.

If a bylaw was issued, Hendrik said, the provincial administration could deploy police to raid poachers.

Hendrik said his office did already have laws governing poaching, such as Law No. 5/1990 on natural resource conservation, but they were ineffective.

'€œBesides that, the number of personnel is also very limited,'€ he said. Six conservation areas in Gorontalo, home to various animal and plant species, are monitored by only eight personnel responsible for hundreds of thousands of hectares.

Meanwhile, conservationist and environmental observer from Gorontalo Muhammadiyah University, Teri Repi, said the suggested bylaw would overlap with existing laws, such as Law No. 5 on natural resources conservation, Government Regulation No. 8/1999 on utilization of flora and fauna species and Provincial Bylaw No. 13/1994 on poaching.

'€œThe various regulations should be implemented to the maximum,'€ said Teri.

According to Teri, the BKSDA and provincial administration should also make the public aware of which animals are protected as well as the sanctions for poaching and the importance of these
animals for mankind.

He added that the central government should also take a more serious stance in helping to protect conservation areas, which are consistently underfunded and understaffed.

'€œConservation areas are a precious national asset, especially in Sulawesi, which is known to have very high biodiversity. They support large ecosystems, water sources and are part of the world'€™s lungs, so supervision must be backed with sufficient funding,'€ said Teri.