Indonesia on Global Tiger Day: Only 371 Sumatran Tigers Left in the Wild

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 29 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The Indonesian arm of international environmental conservation agency, World Wildlife Fund, has revealed that there are only 371 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, or less than 10 percent of the total number of tigers left in existence.

“This is an important reminder to us all that our [Sumatran] tigers are severely at risk of extinction. Before this, we had 3 species of tigers in Indonesia, two of which are already extinct – the Balinese tiger and Javanese tiger,” Nyoman Iswarayoga, WWF Indonesia director of communication and advocacy, said on Friday (29/07).

According to Nyoman, the critically endangered Sumatran tiger is the only species left in Indonesia and is at constant risk of the illegal wildlife trade and hunting and is suffering from habitat loss due to the loss of forest coverage around Sumatra.

Rasio Ridho Sani, the director general for law enforcement at the Environment Ministry, explained that conserving the environment — especially Indonesia’s forests — is imperative to the protection of tigers.

“By protecting our tigers, we will also protect our forests and if our forests are gone the tigers will be too,” Rasio said.

Rasio further contended that by protecting the environment, it will help secure Indonesia’s natural resources which can be used as a source of medicine and food for future generations.

“The future of the world lies in the hands of Indonesia,” he added.

Rasio said that the risk of extinction of protected wildlife — including tigers and fauna — has seen an increase every year, while he shared that his team is in talks of revising the current laws on environmental crimes.

“Our idea is to impose criminal sanctions on perpetrators for crimes against wildlife such as prison terms or fines, especially [when they involve] protected wildlife so that it will have a deterrent effect,” Rasio said.

The director general emphasized the importance of awareness through education as many are still unaware that preserving wildlife is important for people's livelihood and maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

However, Rasio did note that awareness of the importance of wildlife protection has improved over the years.

“[Wildlife protection] has improved, but it hasn't been easy. We must continue to teach people that buying products that use protected wildlife parts is illegal and that a heavy penalty awaits if they are caught [contributing to] the crime,” Rasio said.

Global Tiger Day is celebrated worldwide on July 29.

Consumers urged to use green products to save tigers
Jakarta Post 1 Aug 16;

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) have urged Indonesian consumers to be more aware of products containing palm oil, as the expansion of oil palm plantations has affected the critically endangered status of Sumatran tigers.

The purchase of palm oil-based products from sustainable sources could indirectly have a strong impact on the preservation of Sumatran tigers, RSPO Indonesia director Tiur Rumondang said in a discussion on Sunday aimed at educating the public on the connection between their consumption behavior and the tiger population.

“The current challenge faced by Indonesia is not only low consumer awareness but also a lack of responsibility and collaboration from industry players to ensure that the products they produce are made from sustainable palm oil,”
she said.

Among indicators of a sustainable product is certification by the RSPO.

“Under RSPO’s sustainable palm oil scheme, members are obliged to protect the high conservation value in their plantation management, including protecting rare, threatened or endangered species and high conservation value habitats,” she said, adding that only 33 companies in Indonesia had been certified by the RSPO.

The RSPO, which has earned worldwide acknowledgement, is a voluntary based organization. It only imposes certification on registered companies that want to compete in the global market, because the certification is believed to be a condition demanded by the international marketplace.

Tiar said if consumers demanded sustainable products, more companies would be willing to follow the standardization.

“We have to build a habit within a society, which always questions whether any food or product we purchase is harmful to the environment,” she said.

The WWF celebrated World Tiger Day on Friday, bringing attention to the critically endangered status of the species.

The organization revealed there were only 371 wild Sumatran tigers left in the world.

The forest director for Sumatra and Kalimantan with the WWF Indonesia representative office, Anwar Purwoto, said the number had significantly decreased in the last 25 years and the species may face extinction in the next five years if necessary action was not taken.

He went on to say that 70 percent of remaining Sumatran tigers lived outside their habitats because their habitants had been gradually transformed, including into oil palm plantations.

“It’s more dangerous when the tigers live outside their natural habitats because it may lead to conflict with nearby residents. Among reasons for the disappearance of the animals are conflicts with residents and of course, poachers,” Anwar said.

Anwar acknowledged that palm oil had become the flagship commodity of Indonesia due to high export and absorption of manpower.

Together with neighboring country Malaysia, Indonesia has become a main player in supplying almost 85 percent of global demand.

The government has also aims to produce 40 million tons of crude palm oil (CPO) annually by 2020, from 32 million tons per annum currently.

Of the current amount, only around six million tons of CPO is RSPO-certified.

Anwar opined that existing oil palm land was adequate to meet the country’s target, claiming that the use of high quality seeds would enable companies to optimize production capacity. He also added that farmers needed to ensure that the fruit did not go to waste during harvest. (fac)