Belseran Christ, Ambon – The Maluku Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) has thwarted attempted illegal trade involving birds and reptiles originating from the Maluku Islands.
The protected animals were seized in three regions, namely North Sumatra, Jakarta and East Java.
Among them are 25 Moluccan cockatoos – a vulnerable species endemic to Seram Island, three endangered white cockatoos endemic to Indonesia's tropical rainforests, two near-threatened blushing cockatoos from Tanimbar Islands, 16 red lories, a black-winged lory, five chattering lories and four coconut lorikeets.
The captured animals also included 42 blue-tongued lizards and 27 Amboina sailfin lizards from Ambon Island, a top official at the BKSDA Maluku, Meity Pattipawae, said on Wednesday.
Meity further explained that all of the smuggled animals had been repatriated to Maluku using two commercial airlines and were about to be released into the wild.
"The animals considered to be in healthy condition will be immediately released in the Mount Sahuwai Nature Reserve in West Seram regency and the Manusela National Park in Central Maluku regency," she said, adding that those in need of rehabilitation would be treated at a number of facilities in Ambon and Seram Island before being released.
BKSDA Maluku head Danny H. Pattipellohy revealed that hundreds of the animals were intended to be sold for up to Rp 5 million (US$337) per animal.
"From the information that we've received, a cockatoo is sold at Rp 500,000 to Rp 800,000 in Maluku, but by the time it is traded in Java, the price could soar to Rp 5 million," he said.
BKSDA offices across the country, he further said, would ramp up their efforts to stop such illegal trade.
Indra Exploitasia, the director of the Environment and Forestry Ministry's biodiversity conservation, had separately committed to protecting animals prone to hunting and thwart any attempt to trade them in illegal markets "in order to maintain the balance of their ecosystem." (vny)