Mon, 07 Aug 2000

Nearly 1 ton of discarded wild boar meat discovered

JAKARTA (JP): Nearly one ton of wild boar meat packed in 10 white gunny sacks was found in a dry sewer in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, on Sunday morning.

Kemayoran Police chief Maj. Sudjono said at the site that his men were still probing the case, including the motive behind the dumping of the boar meat.

But he suspected that the sacks were dumped at the site on Jl. Benjamin Sueb in the early hours of the same day before being spotted by a local resident, Sumarto, 40, who then reported the case to local police officers.

"The culprit must have known that streets are busy on Saturday nights. So, he or she must have waited till dawn, to dump the gunny sacks into the sewer," officer Sudjono said.

The issue of wild boar meat has become a major story in the capital following remarks made by city councilors, who said that several meat traders in the city had sold wild boar meat as beef at a slightly cheaper rate than the market price of real beef.

A few hours after the discovery at the Kemayoran site, dozens of men, including Sumarto, were seen carrying the heavy sacks and dumping them into the back of a City Husbandry Agency truck.

The sacks contained light pink intestines and other body parts, which were so slippery that they kept spilling out of the sacks when the sacks thrown into the truck.

One official of the City Husbandry Agency who requested anonymity said at the dumping site that he was sure the meat was wild boar meat.

"I have personally worked for nearly 10 years with meat and definitely know the difference between beef and wild boar meat. This is boar meat," the official said.

Officer Sudjono said that upon receiving the report of the finding, he contacted City Husbandry Agency officials who rushed to Kemayoran to study the type of meat.

"The officials are quite sure that it's wild boar meat, considering the light pink coloring and the very tender texture of the meat," Sudjono said.

Pink meat

Separately, Sumarto, the driver who found the meat, told The Jakarta Post that he usually gets up at 6:30 a.m. and upon heading for work, the first thing he sees outside his house is the trash bags in the sewer, which are normally black in color.

"This (Sunday) morning, I saw white gunny sacks. So, I got curious and checked what was inside. When I saw the meat in one sack, I checked the other sacks. I saw more meat, all pink in color," Sumarto said.

He then waited for a police patrol car to pass by, but none did, so he took a sample of the meat and headed for the nearby Rajawali police precinct to report the case.

City councilors have called on city authorities to take stern action against vendors selling wild boar meat as cheap beef at marketplaces in the capital.

Commission chairman Syarief Zulkarnaen said the City Husbandry Agency should involve the police in its follow-up of the findings.

But there have been no words from the city administration, including the agency, about their investigation thus far.

Syarief said the matter had raised public concern, especially for Muslims who are forbidden to consume wild game.

Local beef is sold at Rp 27,000 (US$3) per kilogram, while imported beef costs Rp 20,000 in the marketplace.

A councilor said he had received information that wild boar meat was being sold at Pasar Minggu market and Pasar Senen market at Rp 15,000 per kilogram.

Late last month, the agency nabbed several vendors selling the cheap meat on Jl. Kelingkit in Tebet, South Jakarta, and seized 740 kilograms of wild boar meat from the traders.

Head of the City Husbandry Agency, Edi Setiarto, warned the public about the wild boar meat, which is believed to have bypassed the inspection authorities.

The news which has already reached millions of households in the city apparently caused a significant drop in sales of beef traders here.

Interviewed separately by the Post on Sunday, sellers in Pasar Minggu, Palmerah and Senen markets said their sales volume on average had plunged to between 30 percent and 50 percent.

"The shoppers are in doubt about the beef we offer to them. Many of them have already stopped buying beef," said trader Hanafi at Pasar Minggu market in South Jakarta.

Armin, a beef seller at Palmerah market in West Jakarta said he used to collect Rp 1 million in daily revenue on average.

"But, after local dailies reported the matter, I only got some Rp 500,000 to Rp 700,000 average per day," he said.

Sukron, a seller at Pasar Senen market said he was previously able to sell 150 kilograms beef a day.

"Now, we can only sell 100 kilograms of beef a day," he said.

The beef sellers convinced shoppers that they would never sell wild boar meat.

"We are Muslims, and our religion prohibits us to eat, touch and even sell the wild boar meat," Sukron explained.

The sellers said the media should be held responsible for blowing up the story.

"We are considering airing protests to the media since they wrote that (story) as if we also sold the meat as beef," said Sukron, who is also a student at Jakarta University here.

But Hanafi confirmed that some of their fellow traders might have sold the wild boar meat as beef.

"It's a way to get quick profits since the price of wild boar meat is only Rp 15,000 per kilogram," he said. (ylt/asa)