Saturday, February 6, 2010

Taman Safari Denies Tigers Came From Them

Man With Five Tigers in His Home Claims They Came From Taman Safari

Five endangered tigers, including three cubs, have been discovered in the apparently illegal possession of a man with a long-standing penchant for keeping tigers in the great concrete wilds of Tangerang.

A possible link between the man, Kusbanu Hadisumarto, the father of minor celebrity actress Unique Priscilla, and the Taman Safari Indonesia wildlife park has prompted calls for an investigation of the park by the Ministry of Forestry.

Awriya Ibrahim, director of forest protection at the ministry, said Friday that following a tipoff, two adult tigers and three cubs were found Thursday.

He said the ministry would conduct DNA tests to determine if the animals were endangered Bengali tigers, as claimed by Kusbanu, or critically endangered Sumatran tigers.

Regardless, Awriya said, it was still illegal to posses either species without proper documentation.

“If they are Sumatran tigers then we can use the 1990 Law on Conservation [to prosecute] but if they are Bengalis then we need to use international law,” he said.

Under the 1990 Law on Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, those found to be transferring protected animals within Indonesia or abroad face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of Rp 100 million ($8,500).

Kusbanu told local media that the tigers were from Taman Safari, though the respected conservation park denied the claims. It did acknowledge previously lending Kusbanu a Bengali tiger for breeding purposes.

Irma Hermawati, coordinator of the Wildlife Advocacy Institution, said the ministry should impose strict sanctions on Taman Safari should Kusbanu be found guilty of transferring any animal without permission.

“Even if they are Bengalis, they are still listed as an endangered species based on CITES [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] so anyone who would want them would need permits from CITES and the host country,” Irma said.

Taman Safari director Tony Sumampau told the Jakarta Globe that in October 1996, Kusbanu asked the park to check on the health of his animals and they discovered that he had a Sumatran tiger and a number of Bengali tigers, “which are not protected.”

Tony said the Taman personnel asked Kusbanu to hand over the Sumatran tiger to the park for conservation and protection.

“Kus finally agreed in exchange for a Bengal tiger from Taman Safari as a mating partner for the ones he had,” Tony said, adding that Taman Safari agreed to temporarily move a Bengali tiger to Kusbanu’s private residence in September 1997.

The permit was extended for another six months in 1998 and the last tiger was returned in 2006, he said.

“We did this only for the sake of saving the Sumatran tiger,” he said, adding that Kusbanu’s aides took the animal to the park and the process was documented.

The ministry’s plans to confiscate the anim

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