Indonesia: Vets Trained to Save Sumatran Tigers From Extinction

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 24 Aug 16;

Jakarta. With the constant threat of habitat degradation and poaching hanging over them, the critically endangered Sumatran tigers have been known to scour for food in residential areas around the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Sumatra.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Indonesia Program (WCS-IP), there have been 113 cases of human-tiger conflicts in 23 villages between 2008 and 2015, with two human casualties reported in 2011 and one in 2015.

WCS-IP data also showed that 292 livestock, mostly goats and cattle, had been lost during tiger attacks in several villages around the outskirts of the mountainous national park, which stretches across three provinces, Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra.

The wildlife organization has been offering training courses for veterinarians to drill them in emergency responses to reduce the number of tiger deaths during a conflict with humans — a vital endeavor since the critically endangered species is nearly extinct.

"We need vets to help handle clashes between tigers and humans, especially to help relocate injured tigers after a conflict like that," WCS-IP country director Noviar Andayani said in a statement on Tuesday (23/08).

"We hope to create a network of trained veterinarians in the three provinces where the national park is located," Noviar said. "That should help us immeasurably to save Sumatran tigers from extinction."

The most recent training in Lampung lasted four days and involved 17 veterinarians.

According to the wildlife organization, the severe lack of wildlife medics and government support in Indonesia has been the greatest obstacle in protecting the Sumatran tigers.

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