"They belong to a cruel syndicate; they shot the elephants in their heads for their tusks. I strongly suspect they are part of a syndicate because they operated in different provinces, i. e. in Riau and Jambi," Senior Commissioner Y. S. Widodo, who is the head of the criminal investigation unit of the Riau police, stated here on Wednesday.
The local police detained the eight poachers and seized weapons and a pair of two-meter-long tusks on Tuesday evening.
They admitted that the tusks were taken from a male Sumatran elephant killed in Mandau, Bengkalis district, Riau province.
"During interrogation, the suspects confessed to have killed three elephants in Tesso Nilo National Park in Riau, three days ago. The elephants that were poached comprised a female and two males," he noted.
In September 2014, they had also killed two elephants in Jambi, and had sold their tusks at a price of Rp8 million, Widodo revealed.
The poachers names were announced by their initials as FA (50), HA (40), R (37), MU (52), S (30), R (30), I (25), and AS (50). FA was the main perpetrator behind the illegal hunting activities.
They face a five-year term in prison and are liable to pay a fine amounting to Rp200 million.
These arrests were the first of their kind after four years, despite several poaching incidents having been reported.
The WWF had recorded 43 cases of poaching of Sumatran elephants in Riau, but no arrests had been made. In 2012, 15 such cases had been reported, but no arrests had been made. In 2013, there had been 14 cases of elephant deaths, of which 13 were found dead in Tesso Nilo National Park.
According to reports, 14 wild elephants were found dead under unnatural circumstances in 2014.
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