Tiger Protection Project – Auckland Zoo funded

A tiger's pugmark found by the team in Bengkulu. Credit: FFI

A tiger’s pugmark found by the team in Bengkulu. Credit: FFI

Project name: Kerinci Seblat Tiger Protection & Conservation – Extending tiger protection to Lebong district, Bengkulu

Location: Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia

Goal: To secure and strengthen protection and conservation of Sumatran tiger in and adjoining a national park which protects Sumatra’s single most important tiger population in  partnership with the Kerinci Seblat National Park

Objective 1: Extend and strengthen tiger protection and conservation capacity in an area to the immediate south of the TPCU’s Bengkulu focus area through building support for tiger conservation by respected religious leaders, government agencies and traditional community leaders.

Objective 2: Facilitate formation of a collaborative multi-stakeholder wildlife crime Rapid Reaction Unit (URC)  to respond to suspected active poaching threat to tigers and and the illegal wildlife trade more widely

Background:

This Fauna & Flora International (FFI) project funded by the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund aims to support the work being carried out by the Lingkar Institute in the Lebong district of Bengkulu. This is an area of particular concern,  bordered on three sides by national park forests  but where  pressure on the TPCUs elsewhere means the program team does not have the capacity to conduct the focused range of actions required to address and reduce threat to tigers.

To strengthen tiger protection in this area, activities will be conducted, under programme supervision,  with Lingkar  to mobilising religious leaders in Lebong district to socialise the Fatwa issued by the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars (Majelis Ulama Indonesia) which prohibits Muslims to hunt rare and endangered wildlife such as Sumatran tiger.

This ground-breaking religious ruling was issued nationally in 2014 but has never been communicated to mosque congregations at a local level in Sumatra and so very few of the predominantly Muslim community in Lebong district are aware that that the hunting of rare animals such as tigers is now not only illegal under Indonesian national law but also forbidden under Islam.

The project team will also work in key forest-edge areas to strengthen and extend existing TPCU forest edge community information networks to secure information on suspected active threat to tigers in national park forests in the area for a swift targeted patrol response.

These patrols may be conducted by TPCUs or by a Rapid Response patrol unit or Unit Reaksi Cepat formation of which will be facilitated by the programme and will compose local national park rangers and officers of other government agencies, including Lebong district police.

Meanwhile, under supervision of  the Bengkulu TPCU coordinator and the team’s Wildlife Crime Law Enforcement Network liason officer, Lingkar members, all of whom are very familiar with the area, will conduct wildlife crime investigations in the district and adjoining market towns and report results to the TPCU field coordinator for follow up investigations or law enforcement where evidence is secured

The project team will also work with the MUI and other project partners to develop routine informal liaison and information sharing mechanisms so that collaborative locally relevant strategies to conserve and protect Sumatran tiger  are developed and implemented in the longer term and tiger conservation is seen as the responsibility of all and not just forestry agencies and conservation NGOs.