Monitoring tiger population trends in Kerinci Seblat 2010-11

Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), west-central Sumatra, is one of the two Sumatran tiger strongholds and contains a globally important tiger population.  The continued survival of this population depends upon sound conservation management that is based on reliable population trend data of tigers and their prey in KSNP. 

21st Century Tiger was the first donor to fund scientific tiger monitoring using camera traps in this Level 1 Tiger Conservation Landscapes (TCL). This led to the first rigorous estimations of tiger densities in KSNP, the development of a new data analysis technique (based on detection/non-detection surveys), increased capacity of Indonesian staff and several key scientific publications.

21st Century Tiger enabled the collection of 2004-2006 baseline information on tigers, their prey and their threats. This data was used by the former Head of KSNP and Head of Protected Areas to reclassify the project camera trap sites as ‘core protection zones’ inside KSNP and were used to support a case, ultimately successful to veto the construction of a road that would have bisected KSNP.

Recognising the importance of camera trap data for the future protection of tigers in KSNP, the Head of KSNP requested That DICE/KSNP conduct repeat surveys (5yrs on) in the four 21st Century Tiger camera sites to enable tiger population trends to be estimated. This project focus on one of these.  The site, located at the southern end of KSNP in Bengkulu province, is considered to be the most threatened given its lowland-hill forest status.  However, the previous tiger surveys showed that this area still had a good density (1.55±0.34 adult individual/100km2). 

Since the surveys were conducted in 2006, Bengkulu province’s forest has undergone extensive conversion to oil palm, which has increased forest accessibility through the creation of inroads.  At the same time, KSNP law enforcement units have begun patrolling and protecting the tiger population here.  So, there is a need to reassess the Bengkulu tiger population’s status and investigate its population trend and whether it is linked to the conservation intervention strategy. 

Results for this study:

21 cameras were deployed for a period of three months and were visited every two weeks to replace film, memory cards and maintenance checks.  Using the standard capture-mark-recapture protocol, a tiger density estimate of 1.16 adult individuals/100km2 (1.16 – 1.86, 95% CIs) was recorded in the study area. This area was especially important due to the pressures of oil palm plantations but the use of KSNP law enforcement unit patrols in this area suggest that the tiger population has remained stable.

More information can be found at:

 Wibisono HT, Linkie M, Guillera-Arroita G, Smith JA, Sunarto, et al. (2011)  PloSONE.pdfpulation Status of a Cryptic Top Predator: An Island-Wide Assessment of Tigers in Sumatran Rainforests. PLoS ONE 6(11): e25931. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025931