The Jakarta Post
Police in East Java have busted a network of criminals they say attempted to smuggle 41 Komodo dragons out of the country and sell them for Rp 500 million (US$35,000) each.
The special crimes unit head of the East Java Police, Sr. Comr. Akhmad Yusep Gunawan, said the force had also rescued five baby Komodo dragons from the Surabaya-based group of alleged smugglers.
“The criminals intended to ship the animals to three countries in Southeast Asia through Singapore,” Yusep told reporters on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
“Each Komodo dragon is sold for Rp 500 million in the international black market,” he added.
He went on to say that the animals had been illegally taken away from their habitat on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). He added that the protected species had been sold for prices ranging from Rp 6 million to Rp 20 million by other illegal vendors in the past.
Komodo dragon is among the most endangered species in the world. The Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara is the only place in the world where people can see Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Police have taken nine suspects into custody in several cities of East and Central Java, according to Yusep.
“One key suspect is still on the run,” he said. (rfa)