Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fight Against Wildlife Crime - Government, NGOs and Industry Unite

This week in Sumatra nationwide efforts to eradicate poaching and illegal trade of tiger, rhino, elephant, orang-utan, made significant progress with the opening of an intensive “boot-camp” training course focused on enhancing wildlife protection. Designed to increase the role of local villagers and communities, the course is unique in that trainees are supported by, not only Government and non-governmental conservation organisations, but also by private industry.

Organised by the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP) and hosted by the Department of Forestry (Bukit Tigapuluh National Park), the course brings together a diverse group of twenty-nine dedicated individuals from across Indonesia, united by a common mission to conserve some of the world’s most endangered wildlife.

International and Indonesian conservation groups sending trainees include Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Program, and the Sungei Wain Protected Forest Management Unit (Kalimantan). Department of Forestry Ranger Police in attendance have travelled from West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Aceh, Jambi, Riau (Sumatra) and Central Kalimantan provinces.

In addition to Indonesian and foreign instructors from Bukit Tigapuluh National Park and the STCP, training staff have been assembled from provincial Police, the local health department, the Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (Frankfurt Zoological Society).

The training board also includes 8 members of Indonesia’s new and elite Forest Police Rapid Reaction Force (SPORC: Satuan Polisi Hutan Reaksi Cepat) – only recently formalised by the Minister of Forestry in January 2006.

Class-based training, starting on the 2nd February, will run for 15 days – covering conservation regulations, law enforcement, arrest and evidence collection, navigation, map reading, report writing, radio operation, emergency evacuation, survival, field tactics and operational strategy. This is followed by 10 days of practical field exercises. This phase sets the 4 man teams into direct competition with each other, with the goal of covertly intercepting, carrying out reconnaissance and then planning and executing a strategic capture and arrest of an opposing
team. A final 5 day “live” exercise places 8 widely dispersed protection units deep in the mountains of Bukit Tigapuluh with the task of, through radio coordination between teams, designing and executing the strategic interception and safe arrest of an “escaping” 9th team.

The wildlife protection system being promoted is one which relies on recruitment and intensive training of personnel from local communities surrounding the protected area, each unit lead by an armed ranger from the Department of Forestry. The participation of villagers in this has, in
practice, seen a significant increase in the local acceptability of park and wildlife law enforcement efforts. It has also increased the perception of community ownership of nearby forests, developed a stronger sense of stewardship, and greatly facilitated the delivering of conservation messages to the heart of surrounding villages. In return both rangers and park management enjoy the support and empowerment generated by these close community links.

The wildlife protection “boot-camp” this year represents the second such training in Bukit Tigapuluh. In late 2004 the first camp recruited, trained and deployed 5 anti-poaching and habitat protection teams across the park. These Tiger and Orangutan Protection Units (TOPU) have been operational since then, providing a front-line defence against wildlife poaching and illegal logging. Together with the national park, the TOPUs have had unprecedented success in arresting and prosecuting a major wildlife poaching and trade syndicate stretching across several provinces. They have also been effective in eradicating large-scale illegal logging from the park’s buffer zone and provided ongoing monitoring of conditions in the remotest parts of the 1,400 square kilometre park.

With STCP and local Government support the units have also set-up a community school in the most isolated settlement of the park’s indigenous forest-dwelling tribes-people (Talang Mamak). Literacy rates of local children have been raised from 0 to 60% over 2 years. A large number of adults also attend evening
classes. A result is that the TOPUs receive the strong support of this remote tribe, including full access to their wealth of knowledge about the surrounding forest and its wildlife.

A goal of this year’s training is to break-down barriers and develop closer cooperation between NGOs working throughout Indonesia. Another high priority is the building of bridges and promotion of understanding between Government, non-government and industrial partners with a concern for wildlife conservation. A key to this is through reinforcing how wildlife protection units, made up of highly trained villagers from local communities, can best support efforts of Government law enforcement agencies. Finally, the training provides an opportunity to standardise field protocols and reinforce quality-control over geographically widespread teams.

The STCP’s field coordinator in Bukit Tigapuluh, Muhamed Yunus, summarises the benefits of the course: “The depth and intensity of training is unparalled. Navigation alone accounts for more than 30 hours of class time. More importantly, the skills developed are immediately applied in the field through a series of simulated week-long operations – all conducted under extreme conditions - identical to those in which wildlife protection teams do their valuable work”.

A unique and welcome addition to the group this year is the attendance of staff from Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (APRIL – Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd) - a major forestry plantation company that operates close to several high biodiversity sites within Riau province. Developing strong links between Government, NGOs and the major land-owning industries is considered by many as the key to ensuring responsible future management of Indonesia’s natural heritage.

“It’s now hoped that other private companies in Riau will follow the lead shown by RAPP in acknowledging responsibility for protection of wildlife in and around their concessions” reports STCP’s program manager, Waldemar Hasiholan.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Filming for Orangutan & Tiger Conservation

Towards the end of 2005, Nick and Evie (Cockroach Productions) joined us in Sumatra while filming to raise awareness regarding the negative environmental impacts of large-scale oil-palm plantations. You can read their fascinating trip reports for an alternative perspective on two weeks spent with the Tiger Program. During their time in Sumatra they walked with tigers, met tiger poachers, and spent time with the indigenous Talang Mamak forest tribes. The documentary which they are producing ("Another Crude Oil") , focused primarily on the oil-palm threat to orangutan and tiger habitat, comes on the back of a Friends of the Earth/Ape Alliance sponsored report - "The Oil for Ape Scandal" (full or summary pdfs). Only a few months down the line and the momentum generated by the campaign has caused a major shift in UK consumers' awareness of the issues. Some major supermarket chains (Waitrose Ltd., and ASDA) have quickly moved to implement more responsible policies in relation to sourcing oil-palm products.

We're pleased that we were able to help Nick and Evie in providing a venue for obtaining a range of valuable photo-opportunities during their time on Sumatra. It's the least we could do to support this valuable cause to which they have so tirelessly dedicated themselves. Have a look at Cockroach Production's next project and then consider some ways in which you can take action to provide your support.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Senepis Tiger Conservation Area – 106,000 hectares approved by Minister of Forestry

After 3 years of negotiations with provincial and central Government, the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP) is pleased to report that the Senepis-Buluhala Tiger Wild tiger in Senepis forests of Riau, Sumatra - photo by STCPConservation Area has finally been approved. On the 3rd January the Indonesian Minister of Forestry, the honourable M.S. Kaban, signed letters formally approving the creation of a peat swamp forest conservation area, specifically for conservation of the Sumatran tiger, close to the city of Dumai in Riau province.

Indonesia’s concern, enthusiasm and a long-term commitment to ensure a future for wild tigers was further highlighted in the Department of Forestry’s recommendation that the conservation area be extended to cover 106,000 hectares (40,000 hectares more than the original proposal) of this vital, carbon-rich and high biodiversity ecosystem.

Uniquely, the decision to create this conservation area firmly places the burden of responsibility for tiger and biodiversity conservation on the shoulders of industrial forestry companies – those most clearly liable for its destruction in the past. The vast majority (91,000 ha) of the conservation area is made up of land operated by a selective logging, production forestry company (PT Diamond Raya Timber). A further 11,000 ha is provided by the inclusion of a long-established Peat Swamp Protected Forest (Kawasan Lindung Gambut) zone. Finally there is a small contribution (3,850 ha), originally a protected reserve under previous provincial spatial plans, from a neighbouring forest plantation company (PT Suntara Gajapati). These companies will maintain ownership of the land under their concession licences but, according to the Minister’s letter, will be responsible for supporting the mission and activities of the Senepis conservation area in the future.

In early 2005 the 200,000 hectares of existing peat swamp forests in this region supported approximately 60 tigers, making it the 7th largest tiger population in Sumatra, and an important component of Indonesia’s overall efforts to conserve its last tiger subspecies.

In the future it is estimated that the core tiger conservation area defined here will be capable of supporting up to 36 adult tigers - providing that forest destruction, poaching and human-tiger conflict can be minimised. The Indonesian tiger conservation strategy defines such a population level as viable in the long-term only if intensive management can be maintained. As such, future maintenance of tigers, and measures to minimise conflict with humans, will be costly. Particularly as the vast majority of virgin forests surrounding the Senepis Tiger Conservation Area are scheduled, in the immediate future, for clearing and replanting with non-native “fast-wood” species destined to supply the pulp and paper industry. Current plans for forest clearance around the Senepis conservation area are equivalent to the loss of 94,000 hectares of virgin forest and 24 resident tigers.

STCP’s previous experience with tigers around Senepis has confirmed that any the planned clearing of natural forests in the Senepis region will inevitably lead to widespread and acute conflict with humans as some 20-30 tigers are displaced. The costs of forest clearance and plantation development, in terms of human deaths by tigers alone, will be extremely high when forest clearance in neighbouring areas intensifies.

However, some hope rests in the fact that the forest concessions adjacent to Senepis, operated as either joint ventures or wood suppliers for the pulp mills of Asia Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd. (APP), are showing increasing awareness of their industries overriding negative effects on tiger, habitat and biodiversity conservation. Concern within the industry regarding the inextricable links between forest clearance and deaths of both humans and tigers, as a direct result of large scale habit clearance, is a growing trend - and one welcomed by a large cross-section of local, national and international stakeholders.

Certainly a more robust tiger population in Senepis, one less likely to result in desperate and lethal tiger attacks on plantation workers and local villagers, can still be achieved. In recent years international forestry companies in general have, as a result of consumer pressure, moved towards implementation of High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) assessments in concession areas dominated by virgin forests. These base-line intensive studies, carried out by teams of independent experts, seek to identify areas of a forest concession that are intrinsic to the maintenance of both social and biological “High Conservation Values”. Management and maintenance of HCVF areas, once recognized, then fall under the responsibility of the company itself. In practice this usually results in a moratorium on logging in these particular areas.

Avoidance of wildlife conflict, the resulting death of villagers, and the protection of globally recognised, critically endangered species (such as the Sumatran tiger) obviously represent High Conservation Values of the highest order. The 106,000 hectares of Senepis-Buluhala Tiger Conservation Area will be greatly enhanced, and conflict with humans much reduced, by the implementation and identification of appropriate HCVF buffer areas in adjacent forestry concessions.

Compliance to the HCVF system ultimately facilitates international marketing and “eco-labelling” of the products that originate from these plantations. Fortunately, PT Suntara Gajapati and PT Ruas Utama Jaya (see figure), represent timber suppliers and joint venture partners of an international pulp and paper company (APP) that has already committed to sourcing timber only from non-HCVF areas. Obviously carrying out HCVF assessments in these industrial concessions is an immediate and highest priority of the collaborative management team.

A population of 50 tigers in the Senepis area would be one considered to be independently viable over the long-term, and therefore an appropriate goal for the conservation management team. Given the contribution of the Senepis-Buluhala Tiger Conservation Area, together with forests in HCVF areas within surrounding forest concessions, this target can certainly still be achieved. While still in the balance, the future of tigers in Dumai looks infinitely more positive now with this latest addition to Indonesia’s tiger conservation portfolio.

Neil Franklin, Waldemar Hasiholan S., Bastoni, Philip Wells, Daniel W. Sinaga - Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (Sumatran Tiger Trust/Ditjen PHKA Department of Forestry)
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Friday, December 02, 2005

Wildlife Protection Training - Boot Camp 2006

Basic Level Protection Course - January 2006 - to be held in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Riau, Sumatra - Indonesia.
A month of intense field training for Tiger and Orangutan Protection Units is being organised by STCP for January 2006, and the offer to participate is being extended to other Indonesian and international conservation groups operating in Sumatra. At the same time the STCP and Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program are expanding their protection of the critical Bukit Tigapuluh habitat by increasing Protection Units from 5 to 7 teams. This move occurs simultaneously with the ongoing collaborative mission to double the size of the Bukit Tigapuluh NP through negotiations with local and national Government. If this is successful Bukit Tigapuluh will become the largest lowland protected forest in Sumatra. It will also be the most intensely protected - ensuring a future for tigers and orangutans in the wild.

Strong and effective in-situ field protection is one of the highest priorities for conservation of Indonesia’s ecosystems and endangered species. The community-based protection model, originally developed by the Indonesian Rhino Conservation Program (PKBI), remains the most effective means by which this can be achieved. In addition to Rhino Protection Units other species-specific teams, based on the original community/ranger four man concept, have been implemented across Indonesia for tigers, elephants and orangutan.

At the present time the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP) and Sumatran
Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) are operating a network of 5 TOPUs in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Sumatra. Through collaboration with the original PKBI management a multi-disciplinary Protection Unit training system has been developed. From recruitment, through to basic and advanced levels – the intense class and field-based training transforms both fresh recruits and experienced personnel into highly efficient protection units.

The first training “boot-camp” was carried out in September 2004 – leading to refinement of syllabus and deployment of 5 teams in Bukit Tigapuluh. Since then these teams have been intrinsically involved in capturing encroachers, tiger poachers, wildlife trade syndicates, and dramatically reduced illegal logging in the park’s buffer area. They represent a front-line in defence of the park and its wildlife, and they also represent a primary and tangible link with surrounding communities from which the
team members are derived.

In Nov/December 2005 the STCP/SOCP/PKBI collaborative training team will, as it moves to expand TOPUs in Bukit Tigapuluh NP from 5 to 7 units, be opening its doors to other groups active in the field. Community personnel, PHKA ranger counterparts and other parties involved in insitu protection are invited to join a month of intense protection and law enforcement training.

The Aim
Through intense class-work and extensive “live”, field-based strategic exercises, develop
functional units of dedicated individuals (from widely differing background and experience bases) - capable of conducting independent and long range patrols/surveys to provide accurate, timely reports, and field protection intervention where required. Proper integration of protection unit efforts with law enforcement agencies and legal procedures for processing of suspects and evidence will also form a primary component of this training.

Basic Objectives
The training program, first developed in 1995 for Rhino Protection Units, has been continuously
improved and modified into its present form over the years. It represents the ultimate “boot-camp” for conservation and field protection practitioners. All classes are supported by an experienced panel of field instructors and field coordinators, many of which are derived from external Government and non-government agencies with particular experience in certain fields (includes trainers from the Police, Judiciary, Health Dept., Forestry Department).

The considerable amount of theory covered is integrated with demonstrations and practicals in the class and field. A series of multi-day, realistic field exercises are run in which the students are tested as individuals, to the very limit of their physical and mental endurance. Finally, students progress will be monitored and recorded throughout, providing the basis for a final rating of candidates, including provision of a written report, certificates of achievement, and recommendations for future personnel development where appropriate.

Students should be: healthy, physically fit, and be capable of reading and writing. Only students who clearly demonstrate they are capable of becoming a useful patrol member will be passed by the instructor panel. Individuals with limited literacy/numeracy will struggle with some of the technical material (and be provided with additional support) but will graduate if they demonstrate strength in other disciplines.

Logistics and other Details
Training will be held in the Training Centre and forests at and around Camp Granite in the heart of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, Riau, in November/December over 25 days (including 10 days of field exercises, and one day of examinations). Final dates of the training course will be set during November. Costs will cover all aspects of training and subsistence during the course, although participants will be expected to cover their own transportation from their home to the pick-up point near Bukit Tigapuluh NP. Instructors’ reserve the right to remove any individual from the training course for serious breaches of conduct, and to deny participation in field exercises for those considered unfit.

View more photos of TPU activities and training.

For further information contact:
Waldemar Hasiholan
Philip Wells
Moh. Yunus

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Creating the largest protected lowland rainforest in Sumatra

Bukit Tigapuluh National Park: Expansion and protection of this extensive and diverse rainforest ensures a future for wild tigers, orang-utans and some of the last nomadic forest tribes-people in Sumatra. GIS map of Bukit Tigapuluh NP and proposed extension areas within Riau and Jambi provinces. Draft Aug 2005, since revised.Strong all-round support is driving rapid progress towards full conservation status for this unique forest habitat of almost 0.5 million hectares.

Bukit Tigapuluh National Park is one of the most recently gazetted national parks in Indonesia, spanning approximately 145,000 hectares of lowland foothills on the central Sumatran borders of Riau and Jambi provinces. At present the majority of forested tiger habitat in these central Sumatran provinces, which only a few decades ago stretched from coast to coast, has already been logged out by oil-palm and ‘fast-wood’ (acacia) plantations, small-scale illegal logging activities, and rapid expansion of human settlements. The result is a crudely unsustainable landscape, degraded and fragmented, providing little long-term hope for wild tigers.

Despite this the Bukit Tigapuluh forest landscape stands against the tide, revered throughout the world as a biodiversity “hotspot” and classic example of the forests which once dominated Sumatra. It continues to provide sanctuary to one of the most unique and diverse biological ecosystems on earth, an assemblage of endangered wildlife and mega-fauna unrivalled in Indonesia, and is home to some of the last truly indigenous tribes people in Sumatra. These include animistic, nomadic forest tribes (‘orang rimba’) and semi-permanent traditional communities (‘Talang Mamak’) who live in a unique harmony with natural forests for their livelihood.

Bukit Tigapuluh is acknowledged as a Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) level I priority habitat and as such has much to contribute in the fight to ensure that tigers continue to survive in the wild.

Over the past three years the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP) has been working with the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), local Government and surrounding communities to initiate and implement field protection, intelligence networks, local community support, park management enhancement and tiger population monitoring in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. The park has, at its nucleus, a field protection strategy unequalled anywhere else in Indonesia. During the last two years seven Presentation by STCP to the Minister of Forestry, regarding justifications for rationalisation and expansion of Bukit Tigapuluh NP boundaries - July 2005highly trained teams (TOPU – Tiger and Orang-utan Protection Units) have been instrumental in minimising illegal logging, and have also infiltrated, captured and prosecuted well established tiger poaching and wildlife trading networks.

The future of Bukit Tigapuluh now stands at a critical cross-roads. Once extensive forest habitat around the park is coming under threat from expansion of oil-palm and fast-wood plantations - through a planned, large-scale sell-off of land to industrial stakeholders. But the fate looming over these forests has been met head-on. Since 2003 the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program has collaborated with the Department of Forestry, Riau and Jambi provincial Governments, the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program and other local partners (including WARSI and the NGO Consorsium for Bukit Tigapuluh) to massively expand the protected area of Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. Although against the trends of forest destruction seen across Sumatra, expansion of the park has been met by enormous local, civil society and Government enthusiasm.

Doubling the size of the park and its protected buffer zone (to more than 300,000 hectares or 3,000 km2) will provide the potential of holding an estimated 80 – 120 tigers in a well managed and highly protected strategic site. The resulting national park will be the third largest protected area, and also the largest contiguous block of protected lowland forest anywhere in Sumatra.

The spatial plan for Bukit Tigapuluh expansion is supported by both local and national Government. A joint presentation in July 2005 to the Minister of Forestry, by STCP and its Government partners, was well received. Since this time political momentum for the expansion plan has been strong and progress rapid towards full stakeholder consensus.

Extensive lowland and hill forest surrounding Bukit Tigapuluh NP; the area shown here will be incorporated within the future national park boundaryIt is a key objective of the team to facilitate the Government’s own efforts by ensuring that forestry “production” areas neighbouring the park can be managed in order to contribute towards the park’s integrity. This is being achieved through negotiations with more responsible industrial forestry companies – some of which are demonstrating their concern for the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape by implementing High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) assessment of their adjacent concessions. Already significant areas of forest have been surrendered by these concession holders.

The future proposed national park of Bukit Tigapuluh will represent the largest lowland protected forest in Sumatra - possibly in Indonesia - and will be the only area in Sumatra which supports tigers, elephants, orang-utans, tapir and the Sumatran rhino (to be confirmed) - all in one unique location. Even on its own, given strong protection and effective management, the expanded Bukit Tigapuluh will practically guarantee the long-term survival of tigers within Riau and Jambi provinces. The Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program considers Bukit Tigapuluh to be a highly strategic stronghold against extinction for the Sumatran tiger in the wild.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Law Enforcement & Wildlife Crime Capacity Building - Training Workshop in Jambi

Save The Tiger Fund (who we gratefully acknowledge as the main sponsor of the activities) carries the full story here about this two-week capacity-building training workshop, organised byThe trainers and trainees from Dep Forestry and other governmental agencies of Jambi province - at the closing ceremony of the STCP/BKSDA organised workshop on law enforcement and wildlife crimeSumatran Tiger Conservation Program, in Jambi province of Sumatra - Indonesia.

Jambi, Sumatra, INDONESIA: A day after International Tiger Day and the launch of the Save The Tiger Fund’s Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking (CATT) - the Indonesian Government, with support from local and international NGO’s, has initiated an intensive two-week training workshop focused on developing in-country capacity to halt poaching and illegal trade of the country’s last 500 wild Sumatran tigers.

Implemented by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry (BKSDA Jambi) and the Sumatran Tiger Program (STP), with funding from Save The Tiger Fund, the European Union, the Sumatran Tiger Trust (UK) and the Tiger Foundation (Canada), the classroom and field-based workshop represents a strong commitment by the provincial Government of Mr. D. Priatna of ZSL providing an overview of tiger radio-collaring and tracking in Asiatic Persada Plantation, Jambi provinceJambi, and reinforces the recently established Provincial Decree No. 237, signed by the Governor on 7th June 2005, entitled “Formation of a Cross-Sectoral Response Team Against Poaching and Illegal Trade in Sumatran Tigers and their Products within Jambi Province”.

Jambi, situated in central Sumatra, represents the heartland of the Sumatran tiger’s remaining range – covering the core Tiger Conservation Units of Bukit Tigapuluh and Kerinci Seblat National Parks. While a strong field protection presence (much of it supported by Save The Tiger Fund) has resulted in reduced poaching within these strictly protected areas, tigers in isolated pockets of production forest, and on the fringes of oil-palm plantations, have been poached relentlessly during the last three years. Constraints to more effective intervention have been identified as sub-optimal coordination and understanding between agencies, further hindered by under-prioritization of wildlife crime issues relative to other criminal matters.

The workshop will focusing on bridging the gap between protection teams in the field, with the police, judiciary and law enforcement agencies across Jambi province. The A rousing closing speech delivered by General Djaja Suparman (centre), accompanied by Bapak Arman (right; currently Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation) and Daniel Sinaga (left; CITES Tiger Task Force representativeestimated 150 attendees of this Tiger and Wildlife Crime Capacity Building Workshop, officially opened by the Governor of Jambi, will spend the first week involved in class-based lectures and seminars, widening the understanding between the various governmental components of the overall law enforcement process, and seeking to define a clear and supporting role for NGOs. The second week of training will see the multi-disciplinary participants off into the field, many for the first time, where recent cases of tiger poaching and wildlife crime will be reviewed and scrutinized.

The varied venues for the field components of training are a direct result of commendable collaboration between Government agencies and the STP (Sumatran Tiger Trust/Tiger Foundation in Bukit Tigapuluh NP), Frankfurt Zoological Society, Flora and Fauna International (Kerinci Seblat NP) and Zoological Society of London (Asiatic Persada oil palm concession) and the European Union’s Illegal Logging Response Centre program.

The workshop will round-up on the 7th October, with closing statements from Indonesia’s national hero General Djaja Suparman (ret., currently Head of the State A wild Sumatran tiger being skinned, May 2004Hunting Association) and the Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ir. Koes Saparjadi. This opportunity will also be used to launch the next stage of wildlife crime development in Jambi, with the signing of a technical cooperation agreement between the Provincial Police Chief, Department of Forestry and the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program.

This new phase of activities, initiated as a pilot-project but scheduled for full operations in 2006, will see the development of a wildlife crime and human-tiger conflict monitoring network across every village community in Jambi which exists in close proximity to tiger habitat. State employed Community Police will represent the front-line, with technical advice and support from STP, in this unprecedented cooperation between the Government and non-governmental sectors.

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Thursday, March 18, 2004

Tiger Poaching and Wildlife Trade Syndicate Captured in Sumatra

An extensive tiger poaching and illegal trade network has been halted by coordinated anti-poaching and intelligence operations in Riau and Jambi provinces of Sumatra, Indonesia. -- At least 60 wild tigers are suspected of having been killed and sold through the network over the last 10 years. The recent capture of seven key suspects advances progress in the fight against poaching and illegal trading of this highly endangered species, and represents a significant victory for the Department of Forestry’s Bukit Tigapuluh National Park management, local Police and the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program (STCP). The suspects, comprising poachers, middle-men and agents, are due to be charged following police questioning on the 19th March in Indragiri Hulu district, Riau province of Sumatra.

"Joint intelligence carried out by park staff and STCP’s Tiger Protection Units during 2003 has revealed a history of intense poaching and trade of tigers originating in this region between 1970 and the present. More than 300 tigers were killed and traded over this 30 year period" reports the chief of park, M. Haryono. "This recent success includes the capture of suspects that have been active for many years in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park area".

Waldemar Hasiholan, program manager of the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program adds, "Although the ranger patrols and our tiger protection units have had a deterrent effect on poachers, we also recognise that we need to drive down the market demand for these illegal products by directly combating trade at its roots".

This news follows the report from TRAFFIC published this week that challenged the Government of Indonesia to crack down on the illegal trade in Sumatran Tigers.

"Let this case and other recent operations carried out by my staff be evidence that the Government of Indonesia is committed to halting poaching and illegal trade," stated the Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Koes Saparjadi. "All the recommendations made in the TRAFFIC report have been our official policy since 2002."

Other recent operations have culminated in record convictions of more than 3 years for tiger poachers in the Bukit Barisan National Park following their arrest in 2003 by park staff and police. In a separate incident a regional parliamentary leader was arrested whilst attempting to sell a tiger skin. A local NGO of concerned environmental activists, ProFauna, has also achieved much success recently in partnership with the regional conservation agencies in identifying tiger-trade routes and capturing suspects as far afield as the island of Java.

"Nobody is above the law, and we are forming a specialist office to tackle tiger related crimes in accordance with earlier recommendations made by the CITES Standing Committee and its Tiger Mission," added Daniel Sinaga, the Tiger Law Enforcement project leader.

This novel strategy, led by the Department of Forestry’s Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, with support from the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program involves the close collaboration between wildlife and law enforcement agencies, intelligence monitoring, a national database on tiger-related wildlife crime, providing oversight and technical expertise for legal cases wherever these may arise. The program represents a major breakthrough in bringing together both Governmental and non-governmental resources in the war against poachers and wildlife trade.

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Monday, March 01, 2004

Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program

Fact Sheet. More about us...
  • The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is critically endangered according to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), with approximately 400-500 individuals surviving in the wild, and is the last surviving subspecies of tiger in Indonesia.
  • Primary threats to the Sumatran tiger include habitat loss, poaching for the illegal trade in skins and traditional medicines, decline in prey species due to hunting, the limited extent and high fragmentation of protected areas, and often fatal conflict with humans.
  • The Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program is a collaborative program of the Indonesian Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, the Sumatran Tiger Trust of the UK and The Tiger Foundation of Canada. Its focus is intensive anti-poaching patrols, illegal trade investigation, remote camera monitoring of tigers and their prey, management support of priority national parks, national policy development, public awareness and on-the-ground facilitation of locally initiated tiger conservation efforts.
  • The Sumatran Tiger Trust, British registered charity No. 1082186, has supported conservation activities in Sumatra since 1996. With 0% overhead and a volunteer staff, it seeks to maximise its resources in working with Indonesian authorities to implement creative and bold measures to conserve Sumatran tigers in the wild. STT has been the primary source of funding for the program since 2002.
  • The Tiger Foundation is a Canadian, 100% volunteer-staffed conservation group exclusively devoted to the preservation of wild tigers. It supported the Sumatran Tiger Conservation Program and predecessor project between 1996 and 2002, and has also been active in combating tiger poaching and habitat loss in India since 2000.
  • The Save The Tiger Fund is an ExxonMobil sponsored grant-awarding body, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (USA), providing support for tiger conservation efforts around the world.

An Indonesian language website is also available at Harimau Harimau .

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