While doing random inspections yesterday morning on vehicles entering Banyuwangi harbor, the port that connects East Java to Bali, Banyuwangi Police made a grisly discovery.
Inside a white van driven by a local resident identified as ‘Solikin’ by Bali Post, officers uncovered the taxidermied bodies of three protected animals species, a leopard, a rare Javan leopard, and a bird-of-paradise, known locally as the Cendrawasih bird. The shipment also included a preserved cobra.
The raid, which was carried out in the wee hours of Sunday morning, involved around 450 personnel and was reportedly initiated in response to a spate of mysterious arson attacks on vehicles in Semarang, Java, earlier this month.
But instead, their searches revealed a consignment of stuffed exotic wildlife. Shocked by their findings, police called in officers from the Natural Resource Conservation Center (BKSDA) to examine and identify the creatures.
Investigations revealed the owner of the exotic cargo to be 57-year old I Gusti Ngurah Wijaya, a substitute registrar at the Surabaya District Court.
Though Wijaya claimed to have all the legal paperwork for the protected preserved species, the documentation he provided was reportedly insufficient.
Talking to Bali Post, Vivi Primyanti, a representative from the BKSDA said, “What we found was only the ownership of maintenance documents when the animals were alive. Even so, it had expired. The transport permit is also very limited.”
Wijaya, who was reportedly weeping as police took him in for questioning, claimed that the garish ornaments had been a gift. “Friends gave them to me; I didn’t buy them. I wanted to transport them to Bali,” he said, as quoted in detiknews.
Banyuwangi Police have not yet announced the charges that Wijaya will face.