By Sujoko, Head of Way Kambas RPU
Our Intelligence and Law Enforcement Unit recently obtained information that poachers were using machine guns to hunt animals in the northern part of Way Kambas National Park. Our Rhino Protection Unit (RPU) immediately collected all the information we could from local people living near the park, then traveled to the location where the poachers had last been seen. (Luckily it is the dry season and we could travel there on motorcycle – making it a much quicker trip!)
We left our camp around 9 pm and arrived at the location around 1 am. According to our informant, the hunters usually enter the forest around 4 am. We staked out an area outside the forest, and after about two hours, we saw two people approaching – one was carrying a machine gun. We surrounded them quickly and were able to catch them by surprise, before they had a chance to react. They hadn’t seen us and weren’t anticipated that anyone could find them in the middle of the night. We had to use pepper spray to subdue the poachers; then we were able to handcuff them.
After questioning the poachers and getting all the information we could from them, we walked them to the Way Kambas National Park office, and handed them over to the park staff for processing. Then the poachers were taken to the police department. We hope that these poachers were operating alone, but we will continue to collect information and monitor all evidence of illegal activities in Way Kambas. It is our duty to serve as the front line for rhino conservation.