Kerinci, April 2020 – Tigers at the side of road Video Clip
When Kerinci Seblat Tiger Protection & Conservation was formed in mid-2000, minor human-tiger conflicts – such as a chance sighting of a tiger in forest-edge farmland had to be painstakingly confirmed, and usually, at best, through old footmarks, with information sometimes taking days to reach the team.
Today, widespread ownership of ‘smart’ phones with camera apps and a mobile phone network that very often has better coverage than in the UK, means villagers’ observations can be quickly reported and a swift response made while use of camera traps can be a valuable additional tool.
These two tigers were spotted by a rural farmland road in the south of the Kerinci valley early in April – just as Indonesia was ‘locking down’ in response to COVID-19.
The video was shot by a family returning to their village, in their car, from a day on their coffee farm and so were more excited than anxious by what they saw on the edge of the road. But car ownership in rural Sumatra is still relatively low and local farmers planning to head home that evening on foot or by motorbike were understandably alarmed.
The family phoned in their observation to a local Kerinci Seblat national park ranger who, that night, advised the PHS team and, the following morning, members of the TPCU and Tiger Monitoring team were on site, spending almost two weeks in and around the area the tigers were filmed – a little over 2 km from National Park edge.
However, the couple who spotted these two tigers did not just share their sighting with the national park but also posted their video on social media – with their video clip quickly going viral. That meant the conflict mitigation team had to check numerous reports from anxious farmers in surrounding villages to prevent wider problems and through demonstrating a conservation presence, ensure farmers were able to continue to work and their livelihoods were not affected.
This blog from Kerinci Seblat National Park reminds us that there can be unintended consequences when people’s videos go viral on social media. Last year in Sumatra a photograph of a tiger crossing a road kept resurfacing on Facebook, causing the park authorities all over the country to lose many hours trying to work out where it was to avoid human-tiger conflict.