Critical wildlife havens in Sumatran forests at risk
Wednesday 31 October 2007
Scientists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have discovered that some unprotected areas of Sumatran forests which are safe havens for a variety of threatened species, including tigers, elephants, sun bears, tapirs, golden cats and clouded leopards.
The Indonesian Government is currently allocating these areas to oil palm, timber plantations and other concessions, all of which have damaging impacts on the environment. If this strategy is not changed, it will result in loss of habitat that is vital to the future of the Sumatran tiger and many other species.
The survey focused on large mammals and revealed evidence of Sumatran tigers (critically endangered) throughout the area and groups of elephants with calves (endangered) in at least half of the forest as well as several other threatened mammals.
Adnun Salampessy, ZSL Field Researcher and coordinator of the survey, added, “We were astonished when we saw the images from the camera traps, which included an entire elephant family and at least five different tigers, identifiable by their stripes. Although we always believed these areas were important, it is incredibly encouraging to have actual, incontrovertible proof of the animals’ presence. We hope that this evidence will help persuade the government that such areas are highly important for conservation.”
The ZSL survey covered nearly 2000 sq. km of degraded, logged and partially settled forest adjacent to Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park in central Sumatra, which has recently been allocated to clearance for plantation forest. The surveys were led by the Zoological Society of London scientists, with survey teams including members of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) wildlife protection teams and Indonesian forestry department (PHKA) staff from Bukit 30 National Park.
Sarah Christie, ZSL Carnivore Programme Manager, added, “This work shows that the criteria for developing land in Sumatra need to be urgently reassessed. Just because forests have been logged does not mean they have lost their value for biodiversity. Many of these areas are playing a vital role in supporting the last remaining Sumatran tigers. Before any land is allocated for conversion it is vital that thorough assessments are made of the remaining value to wildlife so that important areas can be avoided whilst areas that have to be developed can be done so sustainably.
The Zoological Society of London has been working in Indonesia for five years and is committed to working with the Government, industry and other NGOs on finding workable solutions to the continuing conflict between economic development and wildlife conservation.
21st Century Tiger
21st Century Tiger is a unique wild tiger conservation partnership between the Zoological Society of London and Global Tiger Patrol. 100% of funds raised go directly to wild tiger projects.
Download the full report: