Indonesian government bans brutal boar vs dog fights in rural villages

06 November 2017

Officials announce gory blood sport will end following an expose by Animals Asia’s Indonesian partner which garnered wide-ranging support from home and abroad.

Just over two weeks after Scorpion Foundation released footage of violent events where dogs were forced to fight to the death with wild boars, the provincial government has announced it will ensure the cruelty ends.

Scorpion’s footage revealed groups in West Java’s capital Bandung were forcing dogs into bamboo-walled pits where they would be made to fight with wild boars until one of the animals was injured or dead.

Locals claimed the fights - known as “dugong” or “adu bagong” - were a traditional celebration of hunting.

The expose - a joint project between Scorpion Foundation, Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation - attracted public support from Indonesian parliament, local religious groups, nearby villagers and animal lovers from around the world, prompting the regional government to announce they would ensure the grisly spectacles end immediately.

Ade Sukalsah, Head of Communications for the West Java Government, told BBC Indonesia:

“Wild boar – dog fights are a long-standing tradition in West Java, but if the tradition has a bad influence and a negative impact on society, then it should be eliminated and forgotten.

"The West Java provincial government has asked district governments to issue a regulation prohibiting Dugong performances.”

Scorpion Foundation confirmed that Ahmad Heryawan, Governor of West Java, had written to all the province’s regency heads and mayors asking them to issue directives banning the barbaric practice, saying the torture of animals was a criminal offence.

Animals Asia’s Captive Animal Welfare Director, Dave Neale said:

“We are delighted that the Indonesian government has once again listened to the people, taken their concerns on board and moved to eradicate another example of animal cruelty which has no place in modern Indonesia.

“Scorpion’s exposes are shining bright lights on some very dark practices in Indonesia, such as exploitation and dire conditions at zoos, the persistence of traditional blood sports and the nationwide lack of animal welfare regulations.

“As a result, we’re seeing some incredible change in the country. Some facilities are changing their practices , the government is  acknowledging the lack of legislation, and cruel events are being stopped. This is vital work that we will continue to support and fund as long as it is improving animal lives.”

In recent years, animal welfare in Indonesia has become a major issue thanks to a series of investigations by Scorpion, Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation.

Recent successes include the Indonesian government acknowledging in February 2017 the need for standardised laws on animal care after a video showing bears at Bandung zoo begging for food went viral.

A month later,  Kandi Zoo in West Sumatra announced it would end selfies with baby orangutan Michael and build him a new enclosure following sustained pressure to end his exploitation.

In September 2017, Lembah Hijau Zoo on Sumatra said it would no longer force sun bears and orangutans to perform for food after heartbreaking footage revealed an emaciated bear being forced to perform for morsels of food.

Sadly, despite these victories, the use of a sun bear and cub as photo props in Bali and the exploitation of dolphins, which are put on planes to take part in Indonesia’s travelling circuses, show much more needs to be done to end animal cruelty in the country.