Sumatran Tiger & Berbak

Sumatran tiger - Sembilang National Park

Critically Endangered and present nowhere else in the world, the Sumatran tiger is one of those species most vulnerable to the social and economic changes currently occurring in Indonesia. We are working in two main areas, Berbak National Park on the east coast of Sumatra and the Dangku corporate Conservation Complex in the south. We are developing sustainable livelihoods for local communities, designing REDD schemes to protect peat forests from destruction, and increasing community involvement and anti-poaching capacity to protect tigers.

Why we are there

Sumatra, part of the Sundaland biodiversity hotspot (Sundaland is a biogeographical region of Southeastern Asia encompassing the Sunda shelf), is one of the islands hardest hit by changes to Indonesia’s social, economic, and physical environment, with some of the highest rates of deforestation and landscape change in the whole archipelago. Amidst this change, a wide-ranging species like the tiger is a considerable conservation challenge, especially given the growing conflict between tigers and humans. Poaching of tigers and their prey, as well as killing of tigers in response to conflicts, are the two major causes of Sumatran tiger deaths at human hands.

Wildlife Crime and Detection In Berbak National Park

ZSL has now set up two “Wildlife Conflict and Crime Response Teams” (WCCRTs) to address key threats to tigers including poaching, illegal trading and other human-wildlife conflict. The Wildlife Conflict and Crime Response Teams (WCCRT) and ZSL’s field teams work to directly counter poaching activities, resolve conflicts between tigers and humans and track tigers with GPS to enable us to protect them more effectively. 

Tiger Translocation

ZSL’s team in Sumatra is dedicated to stopping tiger attacks on livestock and people. ZSL is working hard dealing with problem tigers; a last resort is to move the animal to a new area, called ‘translocation’. Translocating a problem tiger is a difficult and complicated task.

When a tiger is translocated ZSL’s Indonesia’s country coordinator is called to put a radio collar on the tiger and follow it in the months after its release in the new area. Radio-tracking tigers allows us to gain valuable data on how tigers respond to translocation, helping future efforts to deal with problem tigers.

Tiger conflict veterinary workshop

To enable Indonesian vets and other staff to assist the Indonesian Forestry Department in saving the tigers that come into conflict with humans, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) ran a veterinary training course in early 2012 in partnership with Taman Safari Indonesia, (TSI, a large zoo on Java) to increase their practical skills.

Berbak Carbon Initiative

The peat swamp forest of Berbak National Park and its surrounding buffer zone is rich in biodiversity, and stores vast amounts of carbon in its deep peat soils. The forest is being lost to fires, logging and encroaching farmland, all of which release greenhouse gasses. ZSL and the Berbak National Park Authority plan to conserve this landscape by generating REDD carbon credits from avoided deforestation and degradation. Monetising the protection of the untouched carbon store will support sustainable management of the Berbak ecosystem. 

Dangku Corporate Conservation Complex

Dangku conservation area in South Sumatra plays a crucial role in supporting critically endangered Sumatran tigers. Worryingly, logging and clearance of this habitat means that it is now considered too small to support a viable tiger population in isolation. Connecting this conservation area to small patches of forest in the surrounding landscape is key to the survival of this species. Achieving this will require the co-operation of the companies that control the large tracts of land which separate these areas of forest. ZSL will work with local industries to maintain connections between tiger habitat patches across this region.

Project information

Key species

  • Sumatran Tiger, Critically endangered

People involved

  • Andjar Rafiastanto and Iding Achmad Haidir manage ZSL’s tiger work in Indonesia

Partners and sponsors

  • WCS Indonesia; Taman Safari Indonesia; Wildlife Vets International
  • Kindly Funded by: Defra; Darwin Initiative; Panthera