Jambi Tiger Project
To study and promote the survival of Sumatran tigers in Indonesia
A century ago, perhaps about 100,000 tigers (Panthera tigris) roamed large parts of Asia, from the Caspian Sea to the East of China and from the Siberian Ussuri region to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. Today, only about 5,000 tigers survive in scattered populations and the species is classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
In Indonesia, two of the originally three sub-species of island tigers have become extinct: the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica) in the 1940s and the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) in the 1980s. Only 400 to 500 individuals of the third sub-species, the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), survive, and giving them a future must be a top priority not only of the people and government of Indonesia but also of the global conservation community.
Human activities are the principal cause of declining tiger numbers. Hunting was a major cause of mortality in the past, both for trophies and as part of organised pest control measures. Poaching and illegal killing today remains one of the major threats to the survival of the species, particularly with the growing demand for tiger bones in traditional oriental medicine. The poaching and trafficking of the Sumatran tiger and of its body parts, or derivatives thereof, is violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangerd Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a crime that is very secretive and involves organised, professional syndicates with links across Sumatra, to Java and overseas.
Habitat loss has occurred through much of the tiger's range and threatens its survival because tiger populations become isolated in remaining fragments of suitable habitats and ultimately die out. In Sumatra, agribusiness, such as oil palm plantations and logging concessions, dominates and generally causes a lot of environmental damage. Due to their size and economic value, such areas have a major role in conservation. Some species can survive in such areas, meaning they can play an important role as corridors or even habitats in their own rights. However, which species can survive there, how they survive and what can be done to maximise their survival is poorly understood.
Also the tiger's natural prey species have declined in numbers due to over-hunting, leading individuals to turn to domestic livestock, which inevitably causes conflict with local farmers.
To address the various problems, 21st Century Tiger has been established as a unique wild tiger conservation partnership between the Zoological Society of London and Global Tiger Patrol, a UK-based conservation agency prioritising protection of the tiger in the field. 21st Century Tiger works in close partnership with Indonesian counterparts in order to develop the capacity within the country to sustain conservation work through the generations. Zoos wishing to support tiger conservation in Sumatra or elsewhere can of course liase with a range of agencies working on the ground and/or involved in supplying funds.
Tigers and other wildlife have survived in the scrubby forest presently growing on unplanted land owned by the PT Asiatic Persada Oil Palm Concession in Jambi Province, Sumatra, and in an adjacent large logging concession, which has recently been re-classed as restoration forest for its conservation importance as it represents one of the few pieces of lowland forest left on Sumatra. This project aims at discovering by camera traps and radio telemetry how tigers and their prey are using the human-impacted landscapes. It is based at, and works in collaboration with, the PT Asiatic Persada Oil Palm Concession. The knowledge gained will be used to produce recommendations for oil palm plantations to manage their land in wildlife and tiger friendly ways, and to protect the tigers in the area. Isolated protected areas alone are insufficient for the long-term survival of large carnivores, which need landscape-scale areas, and so ways must be found to enable human-impacted habitats of this kind to provide connectivity.
WAZA Conservation Project 05037 is implemented by the Zoological Society of London, in partnership with the Indonesian forestry authority PHKA, the local branch of this (KSDA) and the Indonesian research authority LIPI, as well as with PT Asiatic Persada. The project was supported by many zoos of EAZA and ARAZPA during the EAZA and ARAZPA Tiger Campaigns of 2003-2004, which targetted nine projects, including this one, through 21st Century Tiger. Individual zoos continue to support 21st Century tiger conservation projects, but most such support is either general or targetted at a tiger sub-species rather than at individual projects. Grants have been obtained over the last four years from the Save the Tiger Fund, 21st Century Tiger, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tufton Charitable Trust and Actis. The project continues to be in need of financial support.
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