Indonesia: Marauding tigers make villagers anxious

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 16;

People living in a hamlet in Pesisir Selatan regency, West Sumatra, which borders with the Kerinci Seblat National Park (TNKS) are anxious these days. Not because they have been forced to leave their homes by a forest concessionaire or a mining company, nor because of an unresolved land dispute, but rather because of tigers.

In recent days, at least four adult Sumatran tigers have been roaming border areas between the forest and the villages. No tiger attacks have been reported, but the large cats have devoured four pet dogs.

“The tigers have been terrorizing residents for almost the past two months. Everyone is scared to go to their farm plots and rice fields. People’s livelihoods have been affected. So we want stakeholders to act in order to avoid the unexpected,” Koto Pulai Jorong hamlet chief Fauzi Anwar told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Fauzi said it was inevitable that someone would be attacked and so he hoped the local Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) or TNKS park rangers would catch and relocate the four tigers to the forest.

The tigers were first seen in early June, he said, and residents had come across tiger spoors several times, before finally seeing them on Tuesday morning.

He estimated that there were two pairs of tigers as they had been spotted in different locations about 1 kilometer apart. Each of the tigers is estimated to be up to 2 meters in length.

“The tigers often roam just 150 meters from settlements. At night, the large cats also enter the front yards of local houses and the small mosque, as can seen by their spoors,” he said.

Fauzi said that as his village bordered the TNKS, residents were used to seeing tigers in the forest. Tigers were not previously known to venture out of their natural habitat, which led the villagers to believe that the four tigers were facing problems.

“They often shadow people carrying food. They could be caught and released into the wild, but they would be unable to adapt or mix with other tigers in the national park. So they would eventually venture out of the forest again,” he said.

West Sumatra BKSDA Region 3 Conservation Section head Surajiya said he had deployed rangers to the scene on July 25 to work with TNKS rangers. “Our rangers have been collecting field information and just found obvious spoors, each 10.3 centimeters long and 9.1 cm wide, at a distance of around 500 meters from the TNKS,” he said.

Based on preliminary investigation, he said, the tigers left their habitat because of a lack of food resulting from rampant wild boar hunting.

“We have appealed to residents to not go to their fields alone and ignite bamboo cannons at night to drive away the tigers. Residents must not abuse the tigers because they are protected,” said Surajiya.

BKSDA has also received reports from residents in a village in South Solok regency, also bordering the TNKS, where tigers preyed on nine goats at the end of June. TNKS rangers have followed up on the reports.

Meanwhile, the death of a pair of six-month-old tiger cubs born in the Kinantan Wildlife and Cultural Park in Bukittinggi at the end of June is being invested by the West Sumatra BKSDA.

“We need one or two weeks to discuss the results of the investigation, because it involves a number of parties besides the BKSDA,” West Sumatra BKSDA Region I Section head Muhammad Zuhdi said on Tuesday.

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