Project status

Our Sumatran tiger conservation work  

The island of Sumatra is home to the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, a sub-species of tiger not found anywhere else in the world. There are estimated to be fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. 

Hard hit by Indonesia’s socio-economic and environmental challenges, the existence of the Sumatran tiger is under threat from rapidly expanding deforestation and forest degradation. The Island’s tigers are losing their natural habitat at an alarming rate. Poaching of the tigers and their prey as well as people injuring and killing tigers in retaliation to loss of livestock, are also threats to the species.   

That’s why we’re working at the cutting-edge of conservation to protect Sumatran tigers and other endangered tigers in Asia

Sumatran tiger Asim at London Zoo
Sumatran tiger Asim sitting in his Tiger Territory home at London Zoo

Working with businesses to protect Sumatran tigers 

Our Sustainable Business and Finance (SBF) team works to protect tigers and other endangered species, by engaging with industries working in areas critical for species in Sumatra.  

Using our SPOTT platform, we continually assess and engage with the most significant palm oil, timber, pulp and natural rubber companies across Indonesia about their environmental policies and practice. This work builds transparency in the sector and increases companies’ accountability to follow their own environmental, social and governance commitments and practices.  

Sumatran tiger Gaysha at London zoo
Gaysha Sumatran tiger stands on a log

Building on our previous work in Indonesia, we’ve started to map likely areas of High Conservation Value (HCV) at a landscape level in some key Sumatran provinces.  

By mapping likely HCVs and potential threats to them at the landscape level, we aim to support companies, financiers, government bodies and NGOs with: 

  • HCV planning and management on the ground  

  • Risk assessment in the supply chain  

  • Landscape planning processes  

Additionally, by looking at this alongside some SPOTT assessment data, we could provide more detailed information on potential risks to HCVs and how companies and their financiers can tackle them. 

Our SBF team also offers advisory services to companies and others managing conservation areas, to support better monitoring and management of tigers and other wildlife in tropical forest landscapes that are used to produce commodities such as palm oil, timber, pulp and rubber.  

  • 85%
    fewer active tiger snares have been detected in the core of Kerinci Seblat National Park
  • £4m
    mobilised in support of 103 projects across priority tiger ranges in Asia
  • Sumatran tiger conservation through WildCats Conservation Alliance  

    WildCats Conservation Alliance is a Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation (DWF) collaborative project, which has been running since 1997. It funds Amur leopard and wild tiger conservation projects and to date has mobilised over £4m in support of 103 different projects across five tiger range countries in Asia

    WildCats works to protect the Sumatran tiger by supporting Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Lingkar Inisiatif Indonesia in Kerinci Seblat National Park in South Sumatra. These partners run local projects that address key conservation issues faced by the Sumatran tiger. .  

    These projects include: 

    • Anti-poaching activities 

    • Conflict mitigation 

    • Education and outreach 

    • Capacity building 

    As top predators and keystone species, healthy tiger populations reflect a healthy environment. Conservation activities whichthat protect this umbrella species help preserve the entire ecosystem in Sumatra.  

    Find out more about WildCats Conservation Alliance  

    Our past Sumatran tiger conservation projects across Indonesia

    Before handing over to Indonesian stakeholders, we worked in two strategic areas: 

    • Berbak National Park on the east coast of Sumatra   

    • Dangku Corporate Conservation Complex in the south. 

    These projects formed the foundations for the KELOLA Sendang project, completed in 2020. It was complex and inclusive of communities, park managers, corporates and multiple layers of government.  

    The ambitious and pioneering project-built capacity to protect forests and peatland, prevent fires and further degradation and fragmentation. With contributions from many Indonesians, national and international governments and donors, it’s helped protect wildlife and their habitats to create a healthier planet.  

    We developed sustainable livelihoods for local communities, designed REDD+ schemes to protect peat forests from destruction, and enhanced community involvement and anti-poaching capacity to protect tigers. 

    Wildlife crime and detection in Berbak National Park 

    We set up two Wildlife Conflict and Crime Response Teams (WCCRTs) to address key threats to tigers. This included poaching, illegal trading and other human-wildlife conflict. The WCCRTs work to directly counter poaching activities, resolve conflicts between Sumatran tigers in Berbak and humans and track tigers with GPS to allow us to protect them more effectively.  

    Tiger-human co-existence and translocation work 

    Our team in Sumatra supported the park’s department to manage conflicts between tigers and communities near the forests. This included stopping tiger attacks on livestock and people.  

    We ran veterinary training in partnership with the Javan zoo, Taman Safari Indonesia (TSI) to develop practical skills in tiger handling.  

    We also supported Sumatran communities and park managers for many years to embed skills and foster co-existence and tolerance for tigers to leave a legacy for Indonesians to manage and protect their tigers. 

    Berbak Carbon Initiative 

    The peat swamp forest of Berbak National Park and its surrounding buffer zone is rich in biodiversity and stores vast quantities of carbon in its deep peat soils. The forest is being lost to fires, logging and encroaching farmland, all of which release greenhouse gasses.  

    Through the Berbak Carbon Initiative, in collaboration with the Berbak National Park Authority, we worked 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  

    The Dangku conservation area in South Sumatra plays a crucial role in supporting Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers. Logging and habitat clearance reduced the size of the area so it’s considered too small to support a viable tiger population in isolation. We aimed to connect this conservation area to small patches of forest in the surrounding landscape which is key to the survival of tigers and other species.   

    Monitoring biodiversity for REDD+ 

    Linked to REDD work in Berbak, ZSL and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) produced a Sourcebook on Monitoring Biodiversity for REDD.  

    It aims to answer three key questions:  

    1. Why monitor biodiversity for REDD+

    1. What to monitor?  

    1. How to monitor?  

    Drawing on the work of a wide range of experts, the Sourcebook provides a simple framework to answer these questions. Summaries of key monitoring methods are presented with best practice guidance and practical case studies from REDD+ and forest projects around the world. 

    Sumatran tiger conservation work

    • We set up two Wildlife Conflict and Crime Response Teams (WCCRTs) to address key threats to tigers in Berbak National Park.

    • Our team in Sumatra supported the parks department to manage conflicts between tigers and communities near the forests. 

    • We worked to conserve this landscape by generating e worked to conserve the caron-rich peat swamp forest of Berbak National Park by generating REDD carbon credits from avoided deforestation and degradation. 

    • We aimed to connect the Dangku Corporate Conservation Complex conservation area to small patches of forest in the surrounding landscape which is key to the survival of tigers and other species.  

    • We produced a Sourcebook on Monitoring Biodiversity for REDD providing a simple framework to answer three key questions about monitoring biodiversity.  

    Our work is kindly funded by:  

    • Defra 

    • Darwin Initiative 

    • Panthera 


    Sustainable Business and Finance work kindly funded by: 

    • Credit Suisse  

    • David and Lucile Packard Foundation 

    • Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)  

    • UK aid from the UK government 


    Find out more information 

    Explore our Sustainability Policy Transparency Toolkit (SPOTT) 

    SPOTT Report on Palm oil and Biodiversity 

    SPOTT Report of Palm Oil and Tropical Peat 


    Urgent action to stop the devastation of critical species and habitats by helping people and wildlife live better together, is the only way to save the natural world we love and depend upon. That’s where ZSL comes in, and where you can play your part.