Indonesia: WWF acquires new tiger conservation area in Jambi

The Jakarta Post 18 Aug 15;

Native tigers, elephants and orangutans now have more space to live in Sumatra following the opening of a brand new conservation area in the Bukit Tigapuluh area of Jambi.

The government recently issued an ecosystem restoration license to PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh, a for-profit company established by a group of environmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), The Orangutan Project and Rainforest Trust, with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, KfW German bank and other institutions.

The license allows the company to pursue activities that protect and restore forests, 20 percent of which have been degraded by encroachment and logging. According to WWF, these activities will include selling rattan, developing shade-grown ‘jungle rubber’ and harvesting medicinal plants in the forest as well as ecotourism.

“This incredible place, where tigers, elephants and orangutans coexist in the wild, is also one of the most threatened. Our work to protect this area is an example of what can be accomplished when concerned organizations, governments and individuals work together to create a future where both nature and people can thrive,” said actor Leonardo DiCaprio in a press statement. DiCaprio is the founder of the eponymous foundation.

According to WWF record 30 Sumatran tigers, 120 Sumatran elephants and 160 Sumatran orangutans live in the 140,000-hectare Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, adjacent to the new 40,000-hectare restoration area.

“The national park has many steep areas that are not good for elephants, so this new project will improve their lives. While for tigers, they will have bigger individual territory to hunt for prey. Each Sumatran tiger naturally needs hundreds of square-kilometers of territory. The orangutan population is expected to increase to more than 300 in this restored and protected ecosystem,” WWF Wildlife and Landscape Ecologist Sunarto told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Bukit Tigapuluh is a place where many prey animals for tigers live, such as wild boars, deer and monkeys. The new restoration will not only benefit tigers, but also balance the ecosystem.

“Wild boars will have a less destructive impact on vegetation as they will face more predators in the restored habitat,” Sunarto said.

As part of the protection and development of the area, PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh will also involve the local tribes living in the forests, including the Talang Mamak and Anak Dalam. (rbk)