Indonesian authorities detained five people in Pelalawan district of Riau province for allegedly poaching and trading body parts of rare Sumatran tigers, an official said Sunday.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry’s law enforcement and forest protection director, Sustyo Iriono, said officials from the ministry and the police seized four tiger fetuses from three suspects, including a husband and wife, during a raid on Saturday morning.
“The fetuses were stored in a plastic jar. Based on the information from those arrested, the authorities were able to arrest two more suspects and seized the skin of an adult tiger,” Iriono said.
The suspects could face up to five years in prison and a fine of 100 million rupiahs according to articles in the 1990 natural resources conservation law.
The Sumatran tiger is the last of Indonesia’s three subspecies of tigers that still exists and is listed as a critically endangered species. The big cat has been pushed to the brink of extinction due to its natural habitat rapidly perishing as a result of massive deforestation.
According to data from the forestry ministry, there are roughly 600 Sumatran tigers now living in the species’ natural habitat, but human encroachment on the protected forest that the tigers inhabit has caused frequent human-tiger conflict.
A farmer was found dismembered last week after a suspected attack by a Sumatran tiger in his coffee field in South Sumatra province. Another farmer was injured.
It was the second fatal tiger attack in the province in less than a month. A camper from Musi Banyuasin was injured in a tiger attack while he was camping in Pagaralam’s Gunung Dempo in November.