IDI, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court on Wednesday handed down prison sentences for five men accused of being involved in killing a Sumatran elephant and illegally trading its ivory, as local conservation authorities look to protect the endangered species.
The court in Aceh convicted the men of violating Indonesian laws protecting natural resources and their ecosystems.
Jainal, the poacher who killed the elephant and cut off its head, along with Edy Murdani, a man accused of being the first point of sale for the ivory, were both sentenced to three and a half years in prison with a fine of 50 millions rupiah ($3,487).
The other three perpetrators — Rinaldi Antonius, Soni and Jeffri Zulkarnaen — were identified as the ivory traders, and face three years in prison and a fine of 100 millions rupiah ($6,973).
The elephant was found dead on July 11 at a palm plantation in East Aceh, police said. Local police worked with the Aceh Natural Resource Conservation Center to investigate the death.
The necropsy results said that the male elephant died after being poisoned.
East Aceh Police arrested the five suspects in August, beginning with the elephant poacher, Jainal, who carries the aliases of Zainon and Dekgam.
Police arrested Jainal on Aug. 10 who admitted he had tried to kill elephants five times since 2017 by poisoning them, but had succeeded only twice, including the recent death. On July 19, he and a partner poisoned mangos near a herd of wild elephants and executed a weakened elephant two hours later with an axe, he told police. The partner is still on the run.
The poacher said he sold the ivory to trader Edy Murdani in East Aceh, who sold it to four buyers in Aceh and West Java provinces. The last buyer, Rinaldi Antonius, a craftsman in West Java, made the ivory into a dagger and cigarette pipe.
In the last seven years, 46 dead elephants have been found in Aceh, Indonesia’s westernmost province. Many were attributed to illegal hunting and conflicts with humans.
Indonesian forestry and environment ministry’s data showed the Sumatran elephant population has shrunk from 1,300 in 2014 to 693, down nearly 50% in the past seven years.
Agus Arianto, chief of Aceh Natural Resource Conservation Center, said that the trial showed the commitment of law enforcement officers to end elephant poaching.
“We have to do prevention so the same thing would not happen in the future,” Arianto said.
Sumatran elephants are a subspecies of the Asian elephant, one of two species of the large mammal in the world.