In January 2017, a team from London travelled to our project site in South Sumatra province, Indonesia to meet local communities, discuss the challenges they face and find solutions to land use conflicts.
ZSL's Daniel Collette, Project Coordinator for East and Southeast Asia, blogs on the field visit and explains how they are working to protect species like the Sumatran tiger.
Indonesia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on Earth and home to some of the world’s most iconic endangered species, including tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans. Habitats for these species are rapidly disappearing because of deforestation and land conversion. Unmitigated agro-industrial development, along with rocketing human populations, is driving habitat loss and fragmentation, contributing to the loss of biodiversity.
To address the need to counter these threats to biodiversity and human livelihoods, ZSL is leading a public-private-people partnership project, KELOLA Sendang, with the generous support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Government of Norway and UK aid from the UK Government.
We are working with project partners to develop a model for sustainable landscape management that aims to achieve a balance between socio-economic development and conservation. Using the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) as a flagship species for the region’s biodiversity, ZSL is looking to create connectivity in a multi-use landscape that is crucial for the survival of the species. A year into the KELOLA Sendang Project, we travelled to our field site on the island of Sumatra to witness the work on the ground.
Where did we go?
After flying to Jambi, we drove 3.5 hours to our first stop: Muara Medak. Selected as a model village for our project activities, Muara Medak faces a number of social and ecological issues which impact the people’s livelihood as well as their environment. Here, we met with villagers and learned about the local area. Located at the confluence of the Medak and Lalan Rivers, Muara Medak is adjacent to a timber concession and a High Conservation Value (HCV) area. HCVs are biological, ecological, social or cultural values which are considered significant at the local, national or global level.
The villagers, keen to explain the area, took us along the river to view the HCV area in their motor boats. It was easy to understand why this area is important for conservation. While speeding by in our boat, we spotted a rare Sialang tree full of bee hives!
These trees are preferred by the Asian Giant Bee (Apis dorsata) that provides important services to the ecosystem such as pollination. The hives of these bees can be found in clusters nesting on the branches of a Sialang Tree. Recognising their importance, local communities have long standing traditional beliefs that protect these trees and the bees living on them.
However, the people of Muara Medak have long used the HCV area as a burial site and are no longer able to do so because of its HCV status. As part of KELOLA Sendang, we are opening up conversations between the local community and companies to find solutions to these land use conflicts.
Back in the village, we stopped into the local school to speak to the school principal and administrators to discuss ZSL’s conservation goals and distribute booklets on Sumatran tiger conservation. These educational materials will help to raise awareness about tigers with the younger generation.
After another long journey driving on and off road, we visited Peninggalan village, where there is disagreement over land use, like in much of our Project area. Often different groups will claim ownership over the same piece of land or the government has zoned these areas inappropriately.
Guided by villagers, the team visited a remnant patch of forest near Peninggalan Village, where over half of the forest has been converted into rubber and oil plantations. The KELOLA Sendang Project is helping Peninggalan and other communities to engage in land use planning to reduce disagreements over land use, protect critical habitats for wildlife, and maximise livelihood opportunities for the communities that also benefit the environment.
After lunch (we ate a lot of rice!), we visited an oil palm plantation. This was a great opportunity to speak with plantation managers and learn about the challenges they are facing. For example, their crops are often damaged by wild boar – the perfect meal for a local tiger! We discussed the use of SPOTT, a tool developed by ZSL, to increase awareness of conservation and implement best management practices.
This trip was the perfect way for us to see the progress of KELOLA Sendang and has sparked our imagination to the possibilities of the project.
Select a blog
Get the latest on ZSL's conservation work in Asia.
Find out more about life in our B.U.G.S exhibit
Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
A new Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.
See the latest ranges, updates and special offers from our exciting new online shop.
Excerpts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.
Discover more about the UK's biggest zoo with our fun blog posts!
Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs
Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lens of the Arts.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.
Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.
The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.