Tiger corridors – connecting tiger populations
Tiger populations are becoming smaller, isolated and fragmented. With little or no tiger interchange the gene flow between these separate populations is decreasing.
Logging and the conversion of forest to plantations and agriculture are rapidly reducing the habitat available.
The expansion of oil palm plantations has played a leading role in the destruction of vast areas of rich tropical forest in Indonesia, which has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world.
Oil palm plantations are a poor substitute for the forest they frequently replace, as only around 15% of forest species are able to utilise the oil palm habitat. This is of enormous conservation concern as these forests are home to an extraordinary variety of species, from the Sumatran tiger to the rhinoceros hornbill, many of which are totally unique to Indonesia.
The critically endangered Sumatran tiger is one of the key species affected by oil palm expansion. However seemingly worthless areas of unplanted and degraded land, which are often found within and around plantations, could provide crucial ‘stepping stones’ or corridors between larger areas of forest in the surrounding landscape.
Tigers can be found in the ‘corridors’ of land between these concessions. They allow tiger to roam freely in search of mates, rather than being confined to isolated areas.
ZSL is working with Indonesian companies to help them manage areas in order to conserve these pathways and connectivity between concessions.
ZSL will survey areas and provide information to the government about land use planning and ecosystem services. Then we will engage with the various corporate concession holders and work with them on managing high conservation value land to the benefit of tiger populations.
The aim is to establish a Corporate Conservation Complex in Jambi Province – in effect a land-use planning taskforce for Sumatra and in so doing conserve tigers.
We can do this by conserving a healthy landscape in which economic development can proceed but habitat connectivity and hence ecosystem functionality is not destroyed.