28th September 2015;
Police in East Kalimantan have arrested three men who recently sparked a firestorm on social media for posting photos of themselves on Facebook killing and skinning a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus).
Ronal Cristoper, Martinus Belawang and Markus Lawai were arrested on Sunday in their hometown of Tabang, Kutai Kertanegara district and are still in police custody, East Kalimantan Police chief Insp. Gen. Safaruddin told Detik.com.
“We are still looking for physical evidence [the Sun Bear’s remains], which was tossed in the forest. But [the suspects] cannot say they didn’t [kill the protected animal] because they uploaded photos [of the slaying] on their Facebook page,” he said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Sun Bears as “vulnerable” due to rapid loss of habitat. Indonesia placed the species on its protected list in 1999, which means the three men face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million ($6,840) if found guilty of killing the animal.
Local environmental organization Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group were among the first to file a police complaint just hours after Ronal uploaded the photos to his Facebook account late on Thursday.
“Law enforcers must take firm actions against those found to have harmed or killed a protected wildlife species,” the group’s senior investigator, Marison Guciano, told Merdeka.com news portal.
Kutai Kertanegara district police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Handoko said the three work as mining equipment operators who would often venture into the forest areas around their mining site looking for food.
“The Sun Bear, they say, was already dead after falling into a trap for Wild Boar (Sus spp.). But the trap was not theirs and they chose to skin the bear [for its hide and meat],” Handoko said as quoted by Tribun Kaltim newspaper.
Source: Jakarta Globe