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Bureaucrats` Exotic Pets
M IQBAL ICHSAN/ TEMPO
Tuesday, 21 November, 2017 | 13:58 WIB
Bureaucrats` Exotic Pets

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya, has failed to set a good example of enforcing the regulations. She has allegedly violated her ministry's own regulation against keeping rare animals as pets. 

Endangered animals in dwindling populations are protected by Law No. 5/1990 regarding the conservation of natural resources and their ecosystems. The law clearly mentions a list of animals that may not be freely kept as pets and sets a licensing mechanism as well as sanctions for violation, the maximum of which is a five-year jail term with Rp100 million in fines. The law also allows the ministry to conduct raids and arrest anyone found to possess protected animals without permits. 

Amid the already negative perception towards the ministry's weak law enforcement, in what amounts to be a brazen violation of the law, Minister Siti keeps endangered birds as pets. Tempo’s investigation found that Siti and several other high-ranking public officials possess protected animals without permits. Siti, for example, has a yellow-crested cockatoo and a green peacock both among the 20 exotic animals high on the government’s priority list for protection.

The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan who was forestry minister in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet has also been found to be in possession of two green peacocks, two hornbills, two yellow-crested cockatoos and two goliath cockatoos in his villa in Puncak, Bogor, West Java. Other officials who illegally keep wild animals in captivity are Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Fadli Zon, Chairman of the DPR’s Legal Commission Bambang Soesatyo and the Indonesian ambassador to Croatia, Comsr. Gen. (ret) Sjachroedin Zainal Pagaralam.

The types of exotic animals found in current and former officials are among those listed as protected animals in the appendix of Government Regulation No. 7/1999 regarding the preservation of plants and animals. Only those who hold legal permits and conservation institutions have the authority to keep such animals in captivity. 

The investigation by this magazine also found the alleged manipulation of permits by these officials. Siti, for example, has a captivity permit issued in her daughter’s name by the natural resources conservation agency of the West Java province. However, the permit is only for ordinary birds and unprotected Bali myna, not for green peacocks and the yellow-crested cockatoo. 

Certain public officials are also oblivious of the law prohibiting possession of taxidermy animals which are known locally as offsets. Although the law still allows the ownership of rare animals, clause 2b of article 21 of the conservation law prohibits keeping, owning, transporting and trading of dead animals with attaching sanctions of jail terms and penalties against any violation.

The disgraceful violation by public officials who should be at the forefront of the fight against wildlife trading is highly deplorable. How can the lay public be expected to comply with the law or protect near-extinct animals when high ranking officials set bad examples in breaking the law?

They should have been aware that the explosion in illegal wildlife trade has reached epic proportions. The Wildlife Conversation Society Indonesia Program recorded that illegal wildlife trade in Indonesia in 2016 has increased fourfold since 2010 with the annual trade value reaching Rp13 trillion. 

Environmental crimes like these should not be tolerated. Until now, illegal wildlife trade is still perpetrated massively and openly via the Internet. The public’s hope in the government is fading fast as it turns a blind eye to the blatant violation of the law by its bureaucrats.

Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

 


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