Since the teams' inception in 2012, the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit has confiscated 67 orangutans from the illegal wildlife trade. Most of these orangutans have been very young - either being kept as pets by people who are unaware that it is illegal to do so, or being prepared for sale on the wider illegal wildlife market.
In many cases, the HOCRU team is led and supported by the patrol teams in conducting confiscations of orangutans from the illegal trade. One such case happened recently, when the patrol team received information from the community in Simpang Rambung village about orangutans being offered for sale on social media. The team quickly responded and were able to confiscate two juvenile orangutans from a trader's house. While the team were working to safely confiscate the orangutans, the trader ran away. He was eventually persuaded to set up a meeting with the team, at which he admitted his participation in the illegal trade of two infant orangutans. He is now undergoing legal proceedings with the North Sumatra Police.
Orangutans have a very long inter-birth interval (8-10 years), so the loss of any individual to the wildlife trade has a potentially devastating effect on populations. Thanks to the patrol team, the two infants confiscated from Simpang Rambung village are now being rehabilitated at an expert facility and will be able to be released into the wild when they reach adulthood.
It is easy to think of deforestation in Sumatra as a process brought about by bulldozers owned by large companies, but that's only part of the story. Illegal logging on a small scale is unfortunately still common in some areas, and tackling it is one of the patrol team's most important jobs. Though small-scale operations don't clear huge swathes of forest in a matter of days, they all add up and cause the forest to become fragmented, making it harder for orangutans and other wildlife to use this vital habitat.
One recent example is illegal logging activity in Gunung Leuser National Park. The logger is a local farmer who was working alongside several other people to cut down Meranti batu (Shorea uliginosa Foxw, a species classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN), process the timber and transport it out of the park in order to sell it. The patrol team came across the processed timber while it was still inside the park, on one of their routine patrol hikes, once again showing how important it is for the team to keep working consistently.
Thank you for donating to this project and keeping the team out on patrol. You are making a difference.
The investigations division of the patrol team recently received a report from community members about an illegal zoo in North Padang Lawas. The team visited the zoo and found over 20 protected and endangered species, including:
A Sumatran orangutan (Critically Endangered)
Citron-crested cockatoo (Critically Endangered)
A sunbear (Vulnerable)
Sambar deer (Vulnerable)
Komodo dragons (Vulnerable)
and many more - all in inappropriate enclosures and being kept in poor conditions.
Aided by the police, the team questioned zoo staff and found that the zoo did not have a legal permit as a conservation institution. This meant that despite having some legal documents allowing them to undertake animal care, the zoo is not allowed to keep protected wildlife. The police and the forestry authorities therefore confiscated all the animals, and they are now in the care of properly documented institutions including the Batu Mbelin rehabiliation centre just outside Medan. Legal proceedings are now taking place under the care of the Indonesian National Police Special Crime Unit to ensure the owners of the zoo cannot repeat this offence in the future.
Thank you for supporting our Tackling Wildlife Crime in Sumatra project and helping us keep Sumatra's wild mammals, birds and reptiles safe.
Thanks to the combined efforts of the ForWPU team and Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) officials, an alleged wildlife crime perpetrator was recently arrested with two pieces of tiger skin. Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) are Critically Endangered and the market demand for body parts is one of the major factors contributing to their decline through poaching. Undercover officers caught the perpetrator on a highway when he tried to sell them the pieces of tiger skin. He will now be charged under Indonesian law and faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of 100 million IDR.
It is important to remember that people who poach or in any other way contribute to wildlife crime are still human beings - often with very few other options to make money. Please bear this in mind if you share this story.
Work like this is tough for the team. It takes a long time, and it can be dangerous. We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who are willing to undertake it and protect endangered species from the illegal wildlife trade.
Thank you for supporting us to keep the team going. You are contributing to a safer future for endangered animals in Sumatra's forests.
Illegal logging, the practice of illegally harvesting, buying or selling timber from forested areas, has serious detrimental impacts on wildlife, people and the environment. In Sumatra, these effects range from the destruction of orangutan habitat to the endangerment of people's lives as disappearing forests lead to soil erosion and flooding.
Illegal logging is therefore one of the primary areas of concern for the Forest and Wildlife Protection Unit (ForWPU). One recent investigation focused on Bukit Barisan Forest National Park. The team spent several months monitoring the area and collecting data, most recently documenting a large pile of 80 seven-metre long logs on the bank of the Batun river. At another location nearby, they found a stack of processed timber, indicating that the illegal logging operation is quite developed and widespread across the national park.
The evidence painstakingly collected by the ForWPU team was passed on to local authorities, who will now take action against the loggers under Indonesia's forestry laws.
Bringing this kind of illegal activity to light takes a lot of time and effort by several teams of people, and ForWPU is a crucial piece of that puzzle. Thank you for supporting their work and helping to keep Sumatra's forests standing.
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