Pangolin scales, songbirds and baby gibbons recovered in undercover raid on illegal wildlife traders in Indonesia

26 February 2021

Last month FLIGHT, our Indonesian charity partners dedicated to rescuing and releasing songbirds back to the wild, made a shocking discovery when they visited an illegal wildlife trafficker’s warehouse.

The FLIGHT team were undercover and posing as bird collectors. On arrival at the warehouse, the trafficker boasted that he had a lot of poachers who worked for him, and that he had pangolin scales and live baby gibbons as well as birds for sale.

The team immediately contacted the West Sumatra Regional Police to coordinate an arrest strategy. On January 24, the police and FLIGHT raided the warehouse, seizing 4.7 kilograms of pangolin scales, two Agile Gibbons, and 34 protected songbirds including Greater-Green Leafbirds, Blue-Winged Leafbirds, and Blue-Masked Leafbirds.

The raid was part of an ongoing investigation and operations against the illegal trade of rare and indigenous birds which are stolen from the wild and sold at markets to collectors who value their beautiful singing voices. 

After the arrest, the birds were given health checks and then released back into the wild, the gibbons were taken to a government rescue centre, and the pangolin scales were destroyed.

All in a day’s work

Just as the team were regrouping after the raid on the warehouse, they received information from one of their informants that there would be a bird smuggling attempt later that day from the province of Riau to the Lampung province, a 19-hour drive south. 

The team once again sprang into action by contacting the local authorities who intercepted the smugglers before they arrived in Lampung. The smugglers were arrested and the birds were released back into the wild on the same day.

Who is FLIGHT?

In 2018, a group of passionate bird lovers who feared that their country’s forests would soon fall silent if its myriad species of - mostly protected - birds continued to be poached at the rate they had been for years, formed FLIGHT Protecting Indonesia’s Birds to raise awareness of and protect them.

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“FLIGHT’s work is truly vital and what they have achieved since they began - rescuing thousands and thousands of birds, over 30,000 last year alone – has exceeded all expectations. They have also played a huge role in alerting Indonesia to the issue of songbird smuggling. With their help, Indonesia’s songbirds, and the ecosystems they are central to, have a chance of surviving, and we’re backing FLIGHT all of the way.”

Animals Asia proudly provides funding and mentorship to FLIGHT to help them achieve their goal of saving Indonesia’s protected birds. And together with your help we can continue to rescue, rehabilitate and ensure the survival of many of the incredible animals we are so lucky to share our planet with.

Read more:

FLIGHT: Meet the people working tirelessly to stop Indonesia’s jungles falling silent

Illegal bird smuggling operation intercepted leading to release of thousands of Indonesian birds