A joint team comprising personnel from the Environment Ministry and the provincial police tracked down a suspect allegedly smuggling the birds in a van and a bus on Tuesday last week after receiving reports from local people, head of the ministry's law enforcement center for the Sumatra region, Eduward Hutapea said.
The team is intensively interrogating the suspect identified as TDR on the location, Hutapea said, adding that the team is also interrogating another suspect identified as SR who claimed to have a permit as a bird trader, but the Riau conservation agency said the permit is not applicable.
Hutapea said all birds have been returned to the natural habitat.
In May this year, The Jakarta Post reported that the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s rapid response team for the environment, the Leopards, has thwarted alleged attempts to smuggle hundreds of protected typical white-eyes that were illegal caught in Mount Leuser National Park in Aceh.
The team, under the North Sumatra Environment and Forestry Protection and Law Enforcement Agency, secured 1,266 birds that are locally known as pleci as they were allegedly being smuggled in a public bus heading to Medan, North Sumatra.
Leopard team chief Agus Siswoyo then said the authorities received a tip from local residents on the alleged transportation of protected wild animals using a public bus from Takengon, Banda Aceh, to Medan.
The team members then combed busses heading to Medan, finally stopping one that carried packages filled with the protected small passerine birds in Babalan district, Langkat regency in North Sumatra .
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