AboutZoos, Since 2008


Cam­era trap sur­vey brings glim­mer of hope for Suma­tran tigers

pub­lished 30 July 2013 | mod­i­fied 30 May 2014

In time for the third annual Inter­na­tional Tiger Day, recent find­ings from a cam­era trap sur­vey in south­ern Suma­tra, Indone­sia have uncov­ered a bur­geon­ing tiger strong­hold on an island that typ­i­cally makes head­lines for its ram­pant loss of forests and wildlife.

Mr. Tomy Winata, an Indone­sian busi­ness­man, con­ser­va­tion­ist and founder of Tam­bling Wildlife Nature Con­ser­va­tion (TWNC, which is a 450km2 pri­vately man­aged con­ces­sion), has car­ried out crit­i­cal tiger con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives in the region since 1996, and recently part­nered with Pan­thera, a global big cat con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tion, to imple­ment this suc­cess­ful survey.

Sumatran tiger cameratrap2013The study’s pre­lim­i­nary cam­era trap data recently indi­cated an unex­pected den­sity of six tigers per 100km2 in the south­ern region of TWNC. This esti­mate is nearly dou­ble the high­est recorded for the island to date. These find­ings, includ­ing cam­era trap images of tiger cubs, have iden­ti­fied Tam­bling, which is part of the glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant Bukit Barisan Sela­tan National Park (BBSNP), as a bea­con of hope for the last remain­ing 400500 wild Suma­tran tigers.

Panthera’s CEO and tiger sci­en­tist, Dr. Alan Rabi­nowitz, stated, “The extra­or­di­nary tiger den­si­ties that have been dis­cov­ered in Tam­bling are the tan­gi­ble result of Mr. Tomy Winata’s pro­gramme not just to pro­vide tigers sanc­tu­ary, but to pro­tect them. Sim­ply put, the main threat to tigers across their range is from poach­ing. Poach­ing is not a dis­ease we can’t see or a threat we can’t iden­tify. It can be beaten if the will is there to do so. Armed with a zero tol­er­ance pol­icy towards poach­ing, Mr. Tomy Winata and his team have suc­cess­fully secured a sig­nif­i­cant area util­is­ing effec­tive enforce­ment. This fact, cou­pled with good sci­ence and mon­i­tor­ing, has had the desired results; tigers are now breed­ing. Tam­bling is a model tiger con­ser­va­tion site that is giv­ing the Suma­tran sub­species a real chance not just to recover…but to thrive.”

Prior to TWNC’s efforts, Tambling’s tigers were sub­jected to high lev­els of poach­ing and habi­tat loss. How­ever, Mr. Tomy Winata’s use of law enforce­ment patrols car­ry­ing out strict pro­tec­tion efforts, and main­te­nance of low­land tiger habi­tat and prey pop­u­la­tions, has allowed Tam­bling to emerge as a key site for tigers in Suma­tra and across their range. TWNC’s ini­tia­tives have also ben­e­fited the local fish­ing com­mu­nity, which Mr. Tomy Winata has sup­ported by pro­vid­ing vil­lagers with employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, con­tri­bu­tions to the com­mu­nity health clinic and school, stu­dent schol­ar­ships and more.

Mr. Tomy Winata, founder of Tam­bling Wildlife Nature Con­ser­va­tion stated:

I am doing all this because it is my belief that nature has pro­vided us with every­thing we need to sur­vive and live in this world, and yet so many peo­ple have taken from her for their own ben­e­fit with­out giv­ing any­thing back in return. So I hope that my efforts in wildlife con­ser­va­tion and for­est and ecosys­tem sus­tain­abil­ity can be a role model for oth­ers, so that together we can help save Mother Nature and never for­get where we came from.

Sit­u­ated within a pic­turesque penin­sula form­ing the south­ern tip of BBSNP, the TWNC region encom­passes a pri­vately man­aged con­ces­sion which is crit­i­cal to the pro­tec­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity of core tiger pop­u­la­tions in the larger BBSNP land­scape — an area extend­ing 3,568 km2 that rep­re­sents one of the largest con­tigu­ous pro­tected regions of Sumatra.

Panthera’s tiger con­ser­va­tion efforts in south­ern Suma­tra began in 2012 with the film­ing of the BBC Nat­ural World doc­u­men­tary, Tiger Island, which fol­lows Dr. Rabi­nowitz as he assesses the state of Mr. Tomy Winata’s wild tiger con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives in Tambling.

Today, Panthera’s wild cat sci­en­tist and post-​doctoral fel­low, Dr. Robert Pick­les, is work­ing with the TWNC team to extend the pop­u­la­tion den­sity analy­sis to the north­ern region of TWNC and imple­ment exten­sive habi­tat analy­ses to deter­mine the vital­ity of Tambling’s ecosys­tem. Expand­ing the reach and effi­cacy of the Tam­bling tiger con­ser­va­tion project, the field teams will soon imple­ment a new mon­i­tor­ing soft­ware known as SMART to track evi­dence of ille­gal activ­i­ties and bet­ter eval­u­ate and tar­get law enforce­ment efforts. Addi­tional activ­i­ties include assist­ing local author­i­ties with park bound­ary delin­eations and deter­min­ing addi­tional threats and their solu­tions, besides poach­ing, to tigers, their prey, and their habitat.

Through this joint ini­tia­tive, Pan­thera is work­ing with Mr. Tomy Winata and TWNC to estab­lish its first ‘Tigers For­ever Legacy Site.’ Dr. Rabi­nowitz con­cluded, “There would be no greater legacy than cre­at­ing safe havens for tigers where the legacy is that they live on, in the wild for­ever. Together with TWNC, we’re one step closer to that becom­ing a reality.”

(Source: Pan­thera press release, 29.07.2013)

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Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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