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.
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.
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.
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