Protecting the Sumatran tiger in Bengkulu

Project name:   Protecting the Sumatran tiger in Bengkulu area of Kerinci Seblat National Park

Location:  Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra Indonesia

Goal: To reduce the poaching threat to Sumatran tiger in the National Park and adjacent forests by building strong practical collaborations between local and national government, religious leaders, educators and forest-edge communities.

Objective 1:  Strengthen awareness of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MIU) Fatwa No. 04 2014 on hunting and trade in tiger and other endangered species in three further key villages in Lebong and North Bengkulu District and more widely in two park-edge districts.

Objective 2: Secure the area for the conservation of the Sumatran tiger in the south of Kerinci Seblat National Park through the Rapid Response Unit Smart forest patrols, managing community information networks, investigations and support for wildlife crime law enforcement.

Background:  Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) covers an area of 1.386 hectares in the provinces of West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra and Bengkulu and is recognised as a globally important site for the conservation of Sumatran tigers.

Unfortunately, although a protected species under Indonesian law for more than 40 years, Sumatran tiger in Bengkulu continue to be threatened by poaching. Because of the size of the national park, many areas still do not receive a routine patrol focus by the understaffed national park’s rangers.

This problem is being addressed by the Lingkar Institute under this project in a strategically important district in the south-west of the national park in Bengkulu province since 2013.

The project team works closely with partners of the Lebong and North Bengkulu district of the Indonesia Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI) to strengthen awareness of the Fatwa MUI No. 4/2014 which prohibits Muslims in Indonesia from hunting or trade in endangered species such as Sumatran tiger. 

The Bengkulu provincial and Lebong district chapters of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars (MUI) takes an important role in this project and works with Lingkar and other partners to build community support for tiger conservation using Islamic perspectives in an area where the local community is overwhelmingly of the Muslim faith.

In July 2020, Lingkar Institute held a formal meeting with the head of the Kerinci Seblat National Park with the agenda of extending the MoU between Lingkar and the National Park Authority as well as evaluating and compiling a program plan to be carried out.

During the meeting, various potential weaknesses that will be faced during the COVID 19 pandemic period 2021-2022 have been identified, namely, there is the potential for an escalation of illegal hunting and trade activities in national park forest areas due to decreased community income as a consequence of massive unemployment and a reduction in the budget at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry for regional security activities due to a shift in the budget to COVID 19 countermeasures.

Under this project, these weaknesses are being addressed through stronger collaboration between National Parks and other forestry agencies to carry out joint forest patrols and information sharing to strengthen strategies to combat tiger crime and other wildlife crime.

This project is also supported by a separate grant from the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund