By Ujang Suryadi
Intelligence and Law Enforcement Unit, Rhino Protection Unit Program Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia
We know that rhinos are a key species and protecting rhinos and their habitat is our main task. That means we also protect tigers,
elephants, and other species. Patrolling and monitoring is our main job, but developing and maintaining relationships with the community and local people surrounding the national park is also another key to success in our program. They will help keep us informed about illegal activity in BBS NP and poaching activity as well. We always try to maintain a good relationship with them because they supply most of our information.
Recently, on 22 October 2010, according to information from our local informant, there was a tiger poached in BBS NP by a poaching gang. Based on our investigation, we were able to identify the suspects and learned their location. Collaborating with the National Park and police, we developed a plan for how to arrest the suspects. The plan was that we would pretend we wanted to buy the tiger skin. One of the RPU members would be an undercover buyer, and the others would handle the arrest when the suspect showed our buyer the tiger skin.
Four hours before the transaction, the suspect and their group cancelled the meeting and they wanted to us to make a new me
eting. We agreed and made a new meeting at a new location. The next day at 1:00 AM, we were waiting at the location like they instructed. We made a deal among all our team members that we would start to arrest the suspects after they showed the tiger skin. All of us were in position before the suspect came. I saw the suspect coming with his group of about 4 people. The location where the meeting was taking place was near a big village and there were a lot of people living there. We knew we needed to make this operation smooth and quick. We didn’t want to disturb the local people so early morning in the morning.
After the suspect showed us the tiger skin, all teams (RPU, forest guards and police) arrested the suspect and the group. There was a lot of fighting between our team and the suspects, and they tried to run away, but we successful in catching all of them. We collected all the evidence such as the tiger skin and teeth, and elephant tusk, as well. We also collected 3 guns, 7 bullets, and a knife. It looked like they were professional poachers and had been successful in killing many animals, for a long time. After we finished collecting all the evidence, taking photographs, and inputting all the data that we needed, we moved from that location to the police department. We could not take a rest at the police office because we had to make a report and list all the evidence step-by-step. It was very tiring, we stayed for 2 days at the police office and after finishing all the steps, we were able to go back to the RPU camp. Hopefully in the future there will be no more poachers at the BBS NP and all animals can live without the threat of being poached.