It has taken millions of years for tigers to evolve into the beautiful, awe-inspiring predator we have today. Once roaming over nearly one-fifth of the Earth, the tiger has been pushed into small isolated islands of habitat, often surrounded by a sea of humanity. It is presently a very real possibility that the tiger will become extinct in our lifetime. Tiger conservation is therefore now more critical than ever.
In the last sixty years we have lost three sub-species of tiger; the Balinese, Caspian and Javanese tigers are gone forever. It is estimated that just 100 years ago there were over 100,000 tigers in the vast forests of Asia. Humans are the only race capable of wiping out an entire species, making humans solely responsible for the tiger's demise.
With less than 5000 tigers remaining in the wild today (and less than 400 Sumatran tigers), immediate action is the only way to save this magnificent species from extinction. The future survival of the tiger is in the hands of mankind.
As with many of Sumatra's national parks, encroachment by farmers and massive palm and rubber plantation companies, combined with poaching and illegal logging are taking a heavy toll on the forests and its wildlife, including the tiger.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors is working in partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) with its tiger conservation program. FFI has been working in Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), one of the largest national parks in south-east Asia covering over 1.4 million hectares and one of the last remaining habitats for the Sumatran tiger.
FFI has had great success with its Tiger Conservation and Protection Units (TCPU). The TCPUs is the most successful tiger law enforcement program in south-east Asia - they consist of mobile teams of trained personnel that gather information about illegal activities such as poaching, logging and illegal settlements in and around the national park. Their main aim is to deter these activities, and also to remove snares that are set by poachers to catch wildlife.
These patrols work in extremely harsh conditions - each member of the patrol carries approximately 35kg of equipment and supplies, and covers between 15 and 18km every day on foot through terrain that is incredibly tough.
The rangers are also often put at great personal risk, apprehending some of the dangerous people who poach wildlife. Sometimes they even have to go undercover to expose illegal wildlife dealers and the middlemen they work with.
How we help
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors has also provided the TCPU with vehicles and an assortment of other necessary equipment, including global positioning systems (GPS), digital cameras, veterinary drugs, uniforms and spotlights.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors is also involved in generating and updating tiger information, surveying of key species, training of key field personnel, and tools for the TCPUs including packs, boots and other equipment.
The benefits of setting up the TCPUs within Sumatra has resulted in thousands of square metres of forests being patrolled and protected; protects local communities and their livelihoods; increases community education; and ensures benefits not only to tigers, but to other species who call KSNP home.