Alya Nurbaiti, Jakarta – A law enforcement task force that includes the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the West Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), has taken two men into custody for allegedly selling protected plants.
The men, 23-year-old RB and 32-year-old MT, were apprehended in Sekadau Hilir district, Sekadau regency, West Kalimantan, on Wednesday.
RB and MT were allegedly selling the plants to AC, a nursery owner in Taiwan who sells tropical plants from Southeast Asian countries.
The plants sold reportedly included 25 tropical pitcher plants, locally known as kantong semar, as well as silver Komalomena, Vilodendrum boceri, turtle back Labisia and silver Alocasia.
One of the pitcher plant species the men sold, Nepenthes clipeata, which grows in the crevices of granite rocks, is endemic to Kelam Hill in Sintang regency, West Kalimantan. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the species critically endangered in 2014.
AC had been reported to authorities once before by members of the Suara Pelindung Hutan (Voice of the Forest Protector) community for allegedly smuggling protected plants from Indonesia.
RB and MT admitted to selling each plant for Rp 500,000 (US$33.5) to AC.
Both perpetrators have allegedly been smuggling Nepenthes clipeata from the Kelam Hill Nature Park conservation area since 2017. They sold the specimens online to local and foreign buyers, including in Taiwan, Penang, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur.
"This is our first time investigating the smuggled protected plants case. We will develop the case and trace the international network of protected plant smuggling," Environment and Forestry Ministry law enforcement director general Sustyo Iriyono said on Thursday.
RB and MT are currently being detained in the West Kalimantan Police detention center. RB has been declared a suspect and MT remains classified as a witness.
Both men were charged with violating Article 21 paragraph 1 and Article 40 paragraph 2 of Law No. 5/1990 on natural resources and ecosystem conservation, which stipulates a maximum punishment of five years in jail or a Rp 100 million fine.