Fatwa Offers More Protection to Indonesian Wildlife

Photo by Scott Rotzoll http://flic.kr/p/fgmC8bThe Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI), Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, has issued its first ever fatwa — call to action — against the country’s rampant black market for endangered species. The MUI’s declaration offers a strong spiritual message for environmental protection that many are praising.

Indonesia is one of the most species rich countries on earth. It is home to several critically endangered species including the Sumatran tiger, elusive pangolin, and orangutan. Although these species are protected by law in Indonesia with tough provisions for jail time and steep fines, the possibility of high profits makes the risk worthwhile to wildlife poachers and traffickers. Between 1994-2003, 559 orangutans and gibbons were found at wildlife markets across Indonesia.

Lawmakers in Indonesia are cracking down on the black market trade. Last January police in Indonesia’s Aceh province arrested two wildlife trafficking suspects allegedly behind five tiger poaching rings operating in the forests of northern Sumatra. The arrests followed a months-long investigation and an undercover sting operation in which police seized thousands of dollars worth of illegal animal parts.

The fatwa supplements existing Indonesian law. “People can escape government regulation,” Hayu Prabowo, chair of the Council of Ulama’s environment and natural resources body said, “but they cannot escape the word of God.”

While the MUI’s fatwa doesn’t have any legal affect, it offers more protection to critically endangered species. It requires Indonesia’s 200 million Muslims to take an active role in protecting and conserving the species. The fatwa also calls on the Indonesian government to take action to protect endangered wildlife and combat the illegal wildlife trade.

“All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions are haram [forbidden in Islam]. These include illegal hunting and trading of endangered animals,” Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, MUI’s secretary in charge of fatwas, told AFP. “Whoever takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God’s other living creatures, especially if they die in vain.”

The effect of the fatwa remains to be seen. It’s hard to imagine that tiger poachers, who already ignore Indonesian law, will suddenly pay attention to the fatwa. But according to Wildlife News, farmers and plantation could soon prefer to take action that avoids killing endangered wildlife encroaching onto their farms and plantations. And it may also cause local fishermen taking more care to protect endangered marine animals such as turtles and sharks.

The importance of religious intervention in environmental issues cannot be overstated, and the MUI should be praised for its decree. It would be wonderful to see more religious groups making the same strong declarations about environmental degradation here.

Imagine how much earth would appreciate the divine intervention.

News Source: Treehugger

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .