Police swoop on suspected eagle trafficker

Indonesian police with the caged eagles seized during the raid on a suspected wildlife trafficker's home in Surabaya on Monday.
Indonesian police with the caged eagles seized during the raid on a suspected wildlife trafficker's home in Surabaya on Monday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JAKARTA • Indonesian police posing as wildlife buyers have arrested a suspected trafficker for selling protected eagles on Facebook.

Acting on a tip-off, the authorities in Indonesia's second-largest city of Surabaya swooped on the man's home on Monday, where they discovered 14 eagles in cages and cardboard boxes, said provincial police force spokesman Argo Yuwono yesterday.

Among the various species were white-bellied sea eagles and spotted kestrels, as well as five baby eaglets, Mr Yuwono said.

"Before arresting him, we went undercover and acted as buyers to confirm he was selling the birds on Facebook," he said.

It is the first known case in Indonesia of wildlife being sold through the popular social networking site, the spokesman said.

Police claim the man had been running his online operation for six months, selling eaglets for 750,000 rupiah (S$75) and fully grown birds for up to five million rupiah each.

Mr Yuwono said four of the eaglets had since died from illness, but the other birds had been taken to Indonesia's natural resources conservation office, which deals with wildlife-trafficking cases.

If found guilty of possessing and selling the protected animals, the suspected trafficker could face five years in prison and pay 100 million rupiah in fines.

Indonesian police in May arrested a suspected wildlife smuggler after discovering nearly two dozen live birds, mostly yellow-crested cockatoos, jammed alive inside plastic water bottles in his luggage.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Police swoop on suspected eagle trafficker'. Print Edition | Subscribe