The Wildlife Conservation Society congratulates a military court in the Indonesian town of Takengon in Aceh Province for recently handing down fines and jail time to two wildlife traffickers convicted of possessing a pair of stuffed Sumatran tigers and one stuffed sun bear. The suspects were arrested by Takengon's military police after a three-month investigation.
The convictions mark the first successful prosecutions of wildlife crimes in Aceh Province, and only the second such crimes prosecuted by an Indonesian military court.
The two defendants were sentenced to two and three months in prison respectively and fines up to $454. Conservationists praise the sentencing as a major victory in a province where organized poaching is on the rise and any conviction of a wildlife crime is rare.
WCS encourages the leaders of the Indonesian military to continue to improve efforts to tackle wildlife crimes within their ranks, and to continue this investigation while considering an increase in the severity of the punishments.
"While the sentences may seem relatively small, they clearly send a message that Indonesia is getting increasingly serious about prosecuting about wildlife crime," said Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director of Asia Programs. "We commend Indonesia's military police for protecting the nation's natural heritage."
Sumatran tigers are critically endangered with an estimated 400 existing in the wild. Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade remains their largest threat.
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