The Jakarta Post
The Riau Police have recently foiled an attempt to smuggle wildlife into Indonesia. They arrested a Riau resident for allegedly bringing four African lion cubs, a leopard cub and 58 Indian star tortoises from Malaysia to the archipelago.
The suspect, identified as Yatno, 38, was caught transporting the animals in three boxes, according to the police.
Riau Police crime unit chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Andri Setiawan said the animals were smuggled for sale in Indonesia.
According to the police, Yatno – who was suspected of being part of an international wildlife-smuggling network – said that he had smuggled animals twice, including his most recent effort.
"The first time was last October, during which he smuggled a cheetah from Malaysia to Lampung," Andri said as reported by kompas.com on Monday.
The Riau Police had been investigating the case for a month.
One day prior to the arrest, the police sniffed out information about the delivery of smuggled animals from Malaysia through an unofficial port in Rupat, Bengkali Regency.
"Based on the information, the perpetrator would be taking a speed boat to an unofficial port located behind the Dumai immigration office," he explained.
However, as the officers sat at the stakeout, Yatno changed course and headed to Pekanbaru city.
"After following him for a while, we finally managed to catch him on Jl. Riau in Pekanbaru," Andri said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the African lion, Indian star tortoise and leopard on its red list of threatened species, calling them “vulnerable” due to a continuing decline in their population. The tortoise, especially, has been targeted in the illegal wildlife trade as it is in high demand as an exotic pet.
The Riau Police have handed the smuggled animals over to the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA), which will further entrust the animals to the Kasang Kulim Zoo in Kampar regency.
BBKSDA Riau head Suharyono said that the smuggled animals, particularly the four African lion cubs, were in dire need of intensive treatment. “The BBKSDA Riau animal medical team [...] will continue to monitor the animals’ condition.”
Yatno has been charged with Law No. 5/1990 on natural resource conservation and the Law No. 21/2019 on animal quarantine. (vla)