Indonesia foils illegal Facebook sale of komodo dragons

A stuffed exotic bird is among others seized by Indonesian authorities during an anti-smuggling operation. (AFP)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Indonesia foils illegal Facebook sale of komodo dragons

  • The vast Southeast Asian archipelago nation’s dense tropical rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world
  • Five smugglers were arrested in Semarang and Surabaya on Java island for allegedly trafficking the komodos

JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they had seized five komodo dragons and dozens of other animals being sold on Facebook, as the country battles to clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade.
The vast Southeast Asian archipelago nation’s dense tropical rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and it has for years been a key source and transit point for animal trafficking.
Five smugglers, identified only by their initials, were arrested in Semarang and Surabaya on Java island for allegedly trafficking the komodos — the world’s biggest lizard — along with bearcats, cockatoos and cassowary birds.
“The suspect VS sold the komodos online through Facebook,” East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said in a statement.
The dragons, which can only be found in their natural habitat on a cluster of islands in eastern Indonesia, were sold for between 15 and 20 million rupiah ($1,000-$1,400), Mangera said.
In a separate case, three other people were arrested in East Java over the alleged online sale of otters, leopard cats and pangolin, Mangera said.
If convicted, the smugglers could face up to five years in prison and a 100-million-rupiah fine.
The haul of komodo dragons comes just a day after authorities seized more than 5,000 endangered pig-nosed turtles from smugglers in Indonesia’s easternmost province Papua.
The pig-nosed turtle — which has a distinctive snout-like nose and webbed feet — is only found in Australia and New Guinea, an island shared between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and is protected under Indonesian conservation laws.
Indonesia’s illegal trade in wildlife along with habitat loss has driven numerous endangered species, from the Sumatran elephant to the orangutan, to the brink of extinction.
Authorities in Bali, a popular holiday island, last week arrested a Russian tourist who attempted to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase to keep as a pet.


‘Hunger Games’ prequel book and film planned

Updated 18 June 2019
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‘Hunger Games’ prequel book and film planned

  • The new book will revisit Panem 64 years before the events of the trilogy during a period known as the “Dark Days”
  • Movie studio Lionsgate said another film was already being planned

LOS ANGELES: A new “Hunger Games” novel set decades before the original best-selling trilogy will be published next year, its publisher said Monday, with plans for an accompanying film already under way.
The book will revisit the macabre post-apocalyptic world of Panem created by Suzanne Collins’ young adult novels, which were adapted into one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises starring Jennifer Lawrence.
The original books, which sold more than 100 million copies, told the story of Katniss Everdeen, a teenage heroine forced by the realm’s totalitarian leaders to participate in a reality TV-style fight to the death.
The new book will revisit Panem 64 years before the events of the trilogy during a period known as the “Dark Days,” in which the nation “struggles to get back to its feet” after a devastating war, Collins said.
Four films based on the trilogy of novels — the final book was split into two parts — turned Lawrence into an A-list movie star and grossed $2.97 billion worldwide.
Movie studio Lionsgate said another film was already being planned.
“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published,” said Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.
“We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
Author Collins said the book would explore “the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival.”
The as-yet untitled book will be published on May 19, 2020.