The Indragiri Hilir Police have arrested four people in Riau province on suspicion of killing at least four sun bears, a protected species listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, following a video that went viral on social media.
The four arrested, all local farmers, have been identified as FS, 33; JS, 51; GS, 34; and JPDS, 39.
A joint team comprising the police, the law enforcement division of the Sumatra Environment and Forestry Office and forest rangers started their investigation upon receiving a viral video showing the capture and killing of sun bears, allegedly in the regency, Indragiri Hilir Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Christian Rony said on Monday evening as quoted by Antara.
The team discovered that the killings took place on Saturday and found several pieces of evidence, including the sun bears’ skins, meat and gall bladders, as well as the rope that was apparently used to trap the bears, which are rarely encountered in the wild.
The suspected perpetrators confessed to police that they had killed at least four sun bears. During the preliminary investigation, the four said they had initially set up traps for wild boars, but the trap had ensnared three sun bears instead. They said they then killed, skinned and butchered the protected animals to divide the meat among them for personal consumption.
The four added that they found another sun bear in the trap on a separate day. At first, they took the sun bear alive to one of their houses. However, they claimed they shot the bear dead after it became aggressive, said Rony.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the sun bear as a vulnerable species with a declining population trend as a result of poaching and widespread deforestation.
Police intend to charge the perpetrators under the 1990 Law on Conservation of Living Natural Resources and Their Ecosystems, which carries a maximum sentence of five years and a maximum fine of Rp 100 million (US$7,270). (dpk/rin)