INDONESIAN MILITARY LINKED TO ILLEGAL BIRD TRADE IN PAPUA

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By Rita A. Widiadana

DENPASAR, Indonesia (July 18, 2002 - The Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---The office of Animal Conservation for Life (KSBK) has reported that some members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) are involved in the transportation of hundreds of protected birds, including parrots, from Maluku and Papua provinces.

A recent investigation by KSBK disclosed that tens of thousands of parrots had been poached from Maluku and Papua and transported to Java and Bali islands, some with the help of Navy warships.

According to KSBK's video records, hundreds of parrots were seen on board TNI warship Teluk Manado No. 537. A source at KSBK said the birds were being sent to Java and Bali islands. The recording was made in May 2001.

The video, entitled Fly Without Wings, is the report on the results of an investigation conducted by KSBK on parrot trade between January 2001 and May 2002.

The screening of the video, produced in VCD and VHS formats, is part of the organization's campaign to stop the poaching of parrots and other birds in the wild.

The comprehensive investigation, funded by the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), disclosed that tens of thousands of parrots from Maluku and Papua had been poached cruelly.

The birds are usually trapped with tree gum. After the birds are cleaned, the poachers clamp the birds' necks with branches of the trees. Later on, the feathers of the trapped birds are pulled out to prevent the birds from flying.

Among the poached birds are those categorized as endangered species such as the yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) and the red and blue lory (Eos histrio).

Each of these endangered birds is sold for between Rp 300,000 (US$ 33) and Rp 500,000 at local bird markets.

According to the law on Conservation of Natural Resources and the Ecosystem, trading of endangered and protected species is strictly prohibited and those violating the law face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million.

I Wayan Wiradnyana, head of KSBK's Bali office, said that trading of parrots was very profitable.

"There are several bird suppliers that regularly deliver a large number of rare birds from Maluku, Nusa Tenggara and Papua to several cities in Java and Bali as well as overseas countries," he said in a statement.

To increase people's awareness of the importance of protecting these rare birds, KSBK's Bali office held a campaign to attract the attention of passersby in Bali by displaying a huge parrot-like balloon in front of the busy Mall Bali on Jl. Diponegoro in downtown Denpasar.

KSBK will also hold a series of campaigns and action plans starting in the middle of July.

A Parrot Tour campaign will be held in several places including Surabaya and Malang in East Java, Yogyakarta, Bogor and Bandung in West Java, Jakarta and Denpasar in Bali, Papua and North Maluku provinces, to show the conditions under which parrots are caught and sold.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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