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Reducing livestock losses, reduces tiger poaching in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Indonesia
Tiger poaching increased dramatically across Sumatra in 2012 and continues largely unabated in many parts of the island. In contrast, surveys between 2002 and 2015 by the Park management authority and WCS show tiger population density doubling to 3.2 tigers/100km2. This is one of the highest tiger densities on Sumatra and near the carrying capacity of the landscape. Since 2007, there has been only one case of tiger poaching recorded in the Park.
WCS started working in the park in 1995 and completed the first comprehensive camera trap survey of tigers between 1998 and 2002. Analysis generated a density of 1.6 tigers/100 km2 living in the park. Government records show at least 32 tigers were killed by poachers and in retaliation for eating livestock in and adjacent to the Park from 1997 to 2003. With prices for tiger cubs, whole skins, teeth and bones increasing in Indonesia, WCS understood clearly that unless swift and decisive action was taken, all tigers in the Park were in jeopardy. Partnering with the Park management authority, under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, WCS, in 2003, established the Wildlife Crimes Unit to gather intelligence and arrest tiger poachers. At the same time WCS set up the Wildlife Response Unit to identify human-tiger conflict hotspots and respond rapidly, including joint night patrols with village members, to mitigate conflicts with tigers. The WRU also built 266 Tiger Proof Enclosures under houses to protect livestock in the most conflict prone villages. In the village of Talang Sebelas the number of goats and chickens killed by tigers declined by 80% in the first year and no tigers were killed after installing the enclosures. At the same time, WCS with the Indonesian Rhino Foundation (YABI) and the Park authority, started implementing the SMART patrol system with 13 rangers team within the national park.
Combining improved wildlife crime intelligence and investigations, effective ranger patrols, and successful tiger-livestock conflict mitigation efforts, WCS and partners were able to prevent poaching and halt retaliatory killing of tigers within and bordering the park. As a result, though tiger numbers were declining in other landscapes in Sumatra camera trap surveys showed them increasing in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park from 1.6 tigers/100km2 in 2002 to 3.2 tigers/100km2 in 2015.
Surveys of footprints by WCS in 2010 revealed that the tiger population was widespread across the Bukit Barisan Selatan landscape, and idenitfied a core area for exceedingly rare Sumatran rhinos. This encouraged WCS to concentrate resources within Intensive Protection Zones to save both critically endangered species simultaneously. This approach offers a new and innovative model for endangered species management in Indonesian protected areas. WCS is also supporting the Park authority to apply the PA-METT (protected area management effectiveness tracking tool) to help to better understand how to improve management capacity and increase the METT score for the Park.
Helping villages to build Tiger Proof Enclosures to protect their livestock and by providing participating villages with high quality male goats, has dramatically reduced livestock losses to tigers, increased the value of their livestock (crossbred goats can fetch 1.5 to 2 times the value of traditional breeds at market), and strengthened livelihood security.
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Indonesia.