Indonesia nabs two suspected smugglers of leopard, lion cubs

PEKANBARU, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police said yesterday that they have arrested two men suspected of being part of a ring that poaches and trades in endangered animals and seized from them several lion and leopard cubs and dozens of turtles.

One of the suspects, identified only as Yatno, was arrested last Saturday in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province, after picking up suspicious boxes from a speedboat at a port in Dumai district, said Riau Police’s Chief Detective Andri Sudarmadi.

Police found several boxes containing four lion cubs, a leopard cub and 58 turtles in his van. The turtles and the leopard cub are listed as critically endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, while the lion cubs are listed as endangered.

Yatno’s arrest led police to capture another suspect who was planning to sell the smuggled wildlife to a trader on Java island, Sudarmadi said at a news conference. The second suspect was identified only by his initials, IS.

Sudarmadi said that the two men were allegedly part of an international trafficking syndicate and that they bought the haul from a smuggler in Malaysia.

They told police each cub is valued at USD32,000 on the black market, while the turtles fetch USD1,200 apiece, Sudarmadi said.

The two suspects, if found guilty, face up to five years in jail and USD7,000 in fines for attempting to smuggle wildlife.

Lion and leopard cubs sit in cages as they are displayed during a police press conference in Kampar, Riau, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP