Saving Sumatran Tiger – Conflict Mitigation Manual Handbook

Photo by: @andyps

The significant role of the tiger in the structure of tropical forest ecosystem on the island of Sumatra cannot be denied. The strong ties of the Sumatran tiger with most of the cultures of the communities have made it one of the most feared and admired wildlife species.

However, the high respect earned by the Sumatran tiger is obviously not enough to ensure the survival of this big cat over the long term. In fact, the population of this main predator on Sumatra tends to keep on declining. It is estimated that there are only 350 individuals left at the moment, which is about 35% of the estimated number in the 1970’s.

The decline in the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild is closely linked with forest loss in this world’s sixth largest island. Large-scale expansion of industries in the last three decades, and the high rate of increase in human population have significantly contributed to the loss in the size and quality of forests on this second most populous island in Indonesia.

Human-wildlife conflicts and especially human-tiger conflicts cannot be avoided as both human and wildlife are using the same resources. Records indicate that human-tiger conflicts in Sumatra tend to rise from year to year. In the past ten years alone, more than 600 conflicts have occurred. Apparently the conflicts have also caused a great deal of losses in the form of material and non-material things. It is tragic that human-tiger conflicts in the last decade have caused fear in the communities and led to the loss of 70 human lives, injuries to about 60 other people, loss of 470 livestocks and the death or expulsion of 80 Sumatran tigers.

The Government of Indonesia has reacted to the rising frequency of human-wildlife conflicts.  A few years back, the Ministry of Forestry issued Regulation No. P.48/Menhut-II/2008 on Guidelines for Human-Wildlife Conflicts Handling This Ministry of Forestry Regulation was issued in realization of the Government commitment to preserve the last Sumatran tiger population in Indonesia in accordance with the 2007-2017 Conservation Strategy and Action Plan of Sumatran Tiger.

The content of the attachment to the Minister of Forestry Regulation No. P.48/Menhut-II/2008 for use as guidelines in the management of human-wildlife conflicts, however, is still very normative, and therefore, it is difficult to implement in the field. Meanwhile, the practitioners and officials of the authorized Technical Implementation Unit are very much in need of practical guidelines, which can easily be used as a reference in decision-making at the occurence of a wildlife conflict. The publication of these Practical Guidelines for the Prevention and Mitigation of Human-Tiger Conflicts, which is an interpretation of the Minister of Forestry Regulation No. P.48/Menhut-II/2008 is expected to assist field workers in determining the appropriate actions promptly and accurately, so that bigger conflicts can be avoided and losses and victims minimized.

This practical guide consists of seven sections. The first section of the document describes the causes of human-tiger conflicts, the definition of human-tiger conflicts, the types and scenario of human-tiger conflicts and the significance of these practical guidelines.

This section elaborates the principles of human-tiger conflict mitigation and explains that both humans and wildlife are important, that the conflict prevention and handling approach may differ from one area to another (site specific), and that conflicts can be resolved through many alternatives and the use of the landscape scale approach.

The Section Two of this book emphasizes that the handling of human-wildlife conflicts is not the sole responsibility of forestry institutions only, but also the responsibility of all stakeholders in the landscape where the conflict occurs.

The third section of this book is almost entirely adopted from the Minister of Forestry Regulation No. P.48/Menhut-II/2008 that regulates the institutional structure in the handling of human-wildlife conflicts. The central part in this book is the fourth and fifth sections of this document.

The fourth and fifth section explains about mitigation procedures including ways to prevent human-tiger conflicts, actions to alleviate or reduce the risks of such conflicts, and various steps in line with the decision-making instructions as described in the flow chart (decision tree) on steps to be taken in certain situations and in every specific human-tiger conflict case.

The sixth section explains ways to file a report on human-tiger conflicts and conduct post-conflict monitoring activities to ensure that the tiger involved in the conflict does not return and cause new conflicts.

The seventh section concludes this document, summarizes its contents and outlines several recommendations for the effective use of this document by practitioners and officers in the field.

The use of this document will not be optimal unless all parties including the central, provincial and district level governments, the land concessionaires (private sector) and the public communities are able to work together and are aware that they are mutually responsible for the prevention and mitigation of human-wildlife conflits. (HAW)

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