Multistakeholder team ambushed, WWF staff attacked

EoF News / 08 May 2007

Pekanbaru (EoF News)— A team of multistakeholders of preventing rampant encroachment in Tesso Nilo forest block, Riau, were ambushed and attacked by mob of encroachers last week. A WWF-Indonesia staff was wounded being overwhelmed by the encroachers whom provoked by W, a district forestry service staff.

Samsul “Ican” Komar, the field surveyor of WWF-Indonesia Riau Conservation Program, got bruised as he was attacked by several men on Thursday afternoon in Bukit Horas area of Tesso Nilo. While, a security guard of PT RAPP were badly wounded as he got fainted. A camera, a bag and documents were also looted by the suspect who is now a fugitive.

The multistakeholder team for Tesso Nilo encroachment prevention consist of Riau and Pelalawan forestry services, Riau BKSDA natural resources conservation body, Tesso Nilo National Park management office, TNNP Foundation, forest companies in Tesso Nilo like PT Nanjak Makmur, PT Siak Raya Timber, PT Hutani Sola Lestari, PT Riaupulp (APRIL), WWF-Indonesia and Pelalawan Police Office.

The team set up in March 2007 aims at monitoring and identifying illegal logging, encroachment as well as open burning that rampantly occurred in forests abandoned by  HPH concession holders. The team also persuade people there not to encroach the forest area belong to the State. The abandoned area would be conserved as Tesso Nilo National Park expansion, from current 38,000 ha to around 100,000 ha.

The incident took place when the team on the way back to WWF’s Flying Squad base in Lubuk Kembang Bunga village from the ground. They were blocked by crossing truck and logs.

The mob then appeared and they started assaulting the team members following command shouted by W, the civil servant at large. Samsul told that he was a target for assault as W punched him and shouted at the mob saying “attack him, kill him.” The team were unusually not armed and they could do only run away from the attack.

Pelalawan Police probe the case and are hunting suspect “W”, who still at large following the assault. The provocateur who is a forest ranger of the district forestry service started assault, Samsul said.

Nursamsu, Forest Crime Module Leader of WWF-Indonesia of Riau Program, said that he expected that the police could arrest the suspect and bring him to justice. “We believe the police will apprehend him soon as the attack is obviously against the Law,” he said.

He said the team would keep fighting rampant illegal logging and encroachment conducted by encroachers who financed by rich businessmen. The team have identified some persons who illegally sell or buy the forest including a businessman whom they meet one day before the ambush. 

Early this month, Jaspun, a resident of Tesso Nilo, was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail by Pelalawan District Court for illegally selling about 1,000-ha land of Toro area inside Tesso Nilo forest block.