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Tiger Protection Project – Auckland Zoo funded

Project name: Strengthening the Consensus for Protection of Sumatran Tiger in Bengkulu Area of Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra

Location: Bengkulu, Sumatra, Indonesia

Goal: To secure and strengthen protection and conservation of Sumatran tiger in and adjoining a national park which protects Sumatra’s single most important tiger population in  partnership with the Kerinci Seblat National Park

Objective 1: Strengthen awareness of the MUI Fatwa No. 04/2014 on hunting and trade in tiger and other endangered species in key villages and in high schools in Lebong and North Bengkulu districts.

Objective 2: Maintain actions to protect and conserve wild Sumatran tiger in the far south of Kerinci Seblat National Park area through Rapid Response Unit SMART forest patrols, managing community information networks, investigations and wildlife crime law enforcement.

Objective 3: Strengthen protection and conservation of Sumatran tigers in the south of the Kerinci Seblat National Park area through focused counselling of habitual poachers including re-offenders so they change their behaviour and no longer threaten tiger or tiger prey.

Objective 4: Develop the effectiveness of new wildlife conservation strategies using religious perspectives and values through scientific research with experts to measure changes in the behaviour of local communities on the edge of the forest play a role in maintaining the preservation of forest areas.

Background:

This project funded by the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund aims to support the work being carried out by the Lingkar Institute in the Lebong district of Bengkulu. This is an area of particular concern,  bordered on three sides by national park forests but where pressure on the TPCUs elsewhere means the program team does not have the capacity to conduct the focused range of actions required to address and reduce threat to tigers.

To strengthen tiger protection in this area, activities will be conducted with Lingkar to mobilising religious leaders in Lebong district to socialise the Fatwa issued by the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars (Majelis Ulama Indonesia) which prohibits Muslims to hunt rare and endangered wildlife such as Sumatran tiger.

This ground-breaking religious ruling was issued nationally in 2014 but is only now being communicated to mosque congregations at a local level in Sumatra and so very few of the predominantly Muslim community in Lebong district are aware that that the hunting of rare animals such as tigers is not only illegal under Indonesian national law but also forbidden under Islam.

Lingkar will continue to integrate conservation education into the curriculum in four local high schools using Islamic perspectives and values.

Rapid Response patrols or Unit Reaksi Cepat comprised local national park rangers and officers of other government agencies, including Lebong district police,  work in key forest-edge areas to strengthen and extend forest edge community information networks to secure information on the suspected active threat to tigers in national park forests in the area for a swift targeted patrol response.

For 2020/21, this project is piloting a ‘foster’ or guardianship procedure to support poachers upon release from prison or a known/suspected recidivist to secure long-term change in their behaviour in a country where there is no ‘parole’ system or post-release supervision or support or ‘care in the community’ scheme for ex-offenders.

The project team will work with a range of experts to develop a scientifically based strategy to measure how effective the engagement is with communities in changing behaviours toward poaching and developing a feeling of forest stewardship.