The bonfire of illicit wildlife goods – which included decorative consumer goods made from tigers, elephant tusks, leopards and honey bears – was held at the Aceh Forestry Ministry Office and comes amid heightened efforts to combat poaching in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, according to Fauna & Flaura International (FFI), which supports the Acehnese police’s Special Crimes Unit to investigate wildlife crimes.
Since January 2016, there have been at least three cases of arrests for animal poaching in Aceh.
There are only some 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild as their numbers have been slashed in half by poachers and deforestation over the past 25 years, according to the Tigers in Crisis advocacy organization.
Under the 1990 Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation law, poachers face up to five years jail time and a fine of 100 million rupees ($8,000).
“The poachers – often poor locals – are the usually the only ones caught, leaving the real masterminds and their network safe and operational with the ability to strike again,” says the World Wildlife Fund, which calls the illegal market “a low risk business with high returns”.
According to an epa journalist, the Aceh arrests so far have been of villagers who struggle to eke out a living, while the big players behind global wildlife trafficking networks remain at large.