After watching a video that went viral on social media, the Indragiri Hilir Police in Riau have arrested four farmers for allegedly killing four sun bears.
The four suspects, all of whom are residents of Tempuling district, allegedly butchered and consumed the meat of the sun bears, which are protected under the 1990 law on natural resources and ecosystem conservation.
A joint team comprising the police, the Sumatra Environment and Forestry Office law enforcement division and forest rangers started an investigation after watching a viral video showing the capture and killing of the sun bears, allegedly in the regency, Indragiri Hilir Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Christian Rony Putra said on Tuesday.
The team alleged that the killings took place on Saturday and found several pieces of evidence, including bear skin, meat and gall bladders, as well as a spear, knife, air rifle and rope that was apparently used to trap the bears, which are rarely encountered in the wild.
During a preliminary investigation, the four suspects said they had initially set up traps to capture wild boars in Mumpa village, Tempuling, on March 18. Last Saturday, they found that the trap had ensnared three sun bears instead.
They said they then either hit the heads of the bears or speared their necks to kill them before skinning and butchering them. They then divided the bear meat among them for personal
The four also told investigators that they found another sun bear in the trap on a different day. At first, they took the sun bear alive to one of their houses.
"The bear was then shot with an air rifle on Sunday. They claimed they had to kill the bear as they were afraid of the bear becoming aggressive," Rony said.
The suspects are now facing charges under the 1990 law, which carries a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment and Rp 100 million (US$7,270) in fines.