Since September last year, three Sumatran tigers were found close to human settlements in North Sumatra near the Gunung Leuser National Park, posing a risk for both the humans and the tigers.
The tigers were coming out of the Gunung Leuser National Park and often seen at the forest edge. Local people were scared by their presence and children were afraid to walk to school. Farmers even stopped working outside. The national park is a critical habitat for Sumatran tigers and the sad truth is that their forest habitats are still being cut down - both legally and illegally. These beautiful tigers are sometimes forced to come out of the forest to look for food. You can help our Tiger Team continue to protect them with a donation today.
The tigers were even seen near our Sumatran Rescue Alliance (SRA) Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, where our sister project The Orangutan Project cares for a number of rescued animals including two orphaned orangutans. The staff at SRA were worried about what might happen if the tigers came too close to the centre.
Our Tiger Team normally patrols the Nagari Sontang forest in West Sumatra, but two rangers - Reva and Adi - travelled up to the area to help SRA staff and the community deal with the situation. They arrived in the middle of September last year and met with local governments and local people to gather more information about the conflict and the tigers.
Reva and Adi stayed in the village, connected with the local community during their daily activities, and involved them in the patrols to secure the village. This approach of engaging the local community is a key part of how we work, and the locals were grateful for this level of active engagement and accepted our team into the village. Reva and Adi also trained the local community in patrolling, so they could be part of the long-term solution to tiger conservation in that area. The hope is that the locals will be able to handle wildlife conflict in the future, so no tigers or humans will be injured or hurt.
The assessment showed that the highest level of conflict happened in a village known as Bukit Mas Village, where some tiger footprints were found in the soil of local farms. The Tiger Team educated the local community about how important it is not to hurt or kill the tiger. We taught them about tiger behaviour so they can avoid going near the forest at specific times when tigers are more active.
The team also educated the community about the Sumatran tiger as an endangered and protected species, so the villagers don’t put snares in the forest or shoot the tigers. One of the most important steps is to remove the negative stigma against tigers to help the locals accept and co-exist with tigers.
As well as supporting local patrols, the Tiger Team installed camera traps in the areas where the tigers and their footprints were seen. These cameras will record the tigers entering human settlements and local farms. This footage will show how many tigers are around the village, their range and where they move, and their condition - whether they’re healthy, sick, injured, pregnant and so on.
During the engagement and training, the team also supported the children. They gave them education and fun information sessions about tigers, their role in the forest, and how important it is to keep them alive. The children from the local village were afraid to walk to school, so the Tiger Team guarded the children on their trips to and from home and school. The young ones felt safe to go back to school, and this helped the community also value the role our team played even more.
It’s thanks to supporters like you that we’re able to fund this vital Tiger Team. A donation today will help the team travel to more villages and communities to improve tiger conservation across Sumatra.
Stay tuned for more news soon on our work with this community and the potential rescue and relocation of at least one of the tigers.