Tigers have always held a special place in the hearts of Indonesians. The nation’s folklore describes how men transform themselves into tigers to protect the fields from wild boars. Today, a broad group of concerned stakeholders is revering the past by protecting the Sumatran Tiger population.
To that end, the Senepis Buluhala Tiger Sanctuary, a 106,000 hectare core conservation area near the city of Dumai in Riau Province, has been created from a 90,956 hectare tract from the PT Diamond Raya Timber concession, and 15,025 hectare section from one of APP’s pulpwood supplier, PT Suntara Gajapati. An additional set aside of 4,325 hectare from another APP’s pulpwood supplier, PT Ruas Utama Jaya, forms the conservation corridor.
The sanctuary is surrounded and protected by production forests, where workers are continually on guard for illegal logging and wild fires that threaten the endangered Sumatran Tigers’ habitat.
The Sumatran Tiger is one of five remaining tiger species and with an estimated population of 500, is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) critically endangered list. In 2006 the Senepis Tiger Reserve was officially designated a tiger conservation area.
The goal is to protect these rare animals from poachers, human encroachment and urban development.
“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,” said Bastoni, chairman of the Sumatran Tiger Preservation Foundation (YPHS).
The establishment of a tiger sanctuary within production forests is a pioneering initiative, designed to combine programs that protect the species while meeting the local communities’ social and economic needs. The Tiger Conservation Working Group manages the sanctuary. It is comprised of APP, forest concession holders, representatives from the Riau Province’s Forestry Service and other local forestry services, the Wildlife Conservation Society – Indonesia Program (WCS-IP) and the Foundation of Sumatran Tiger Conservation (PHS). It is a multi-stakeholder conservation effort authorized by the Riau Forestry Service to develop and participate in the protection of the Sumatran Tigers.
The group’s mission is to increase the numbers of this native Indonesian species by providing a suitable, protected habitat for Sumatran Tigers. The Sumatran Tiger is one of five remaining tiger species, with an estimated population of 300 to 500 animals in the wild.
The conservation collaboration demonstrates that responsible private enterprise, government and NGOs can succeed together in Indonesia, developing long-term strategies that protect the nation’s precious natural heritage while sustaining economic development.
The conservation efforts have been so successful that Bastoni and his team are already scouting additional sanctuary lands.
“The only tiger translocation area we have right now in Riau Province is Senepis, but Senepis cannot accommodate all the tigers because it has a certain maximum population capacity,” he said. “So we have taken the initiative to survey other areas for tiger translocation.”