Responsible tourism: Tiger conservation project in Sumatra
As its name implies, the Sumatran tiger is endemic to Sumatra, one of the largest islands in the Indonesian archipelago. It is the smallest of all of the tiger subspecies and is distinguished by heavy black stripes on its orange coat. Listed in IUCNís Critically Endangered category, there are probably fewer than 400 individuals left in the wild. As a top predator, the tiger needs large joined-up forest blocks to thrive, and used to roam across the whole island. It now occurs in isolated populations, its habitats having been drastically reduced by clearings for agriculture, plantations and settlements. This habitat destruction also forces the tiger into settled areas in search of food, where it is more likely to come into contact - and conflict - with people. Next to habitat destruction, poaching is another very potent threat. Studies have estimated that up to 78% of Sumatran tiger deaths, consisting of about 40 animals per year, are as a result of poaching, either as retaliatory killings or to feed the demand for tiger parts. Despite increased efforts in tiger conservation - including law enforcement and anti-poaching capacity - a substantial market remains in Sumatra and the rest of Asia for tiger parts and products.
Today many wild Sumatran tigers are found in the Tesso Nilo Protected Landscape, which has been identified as a ďGlobal Priority Tiger Conservation Landscape", because it harbours a globally important tiger population and includes other important facets of Asian biodiversity, including many other endangered species, such as Sumatran elephants and four other cat species (e.g. clouded leopard & golden cat). Rimbang Baling Wildlife Sanctuary, the expedition study site, forms one of the core tiger refuges inside this area that plays a vital role to maintain connectivity among other key tiger landscapes.
Although the outlook for tigers may often sound bleak, there are success stories too. In well-managed areas with effective tiger patrols and where local communities benefit from tiger presence, there are clear signs of recovery. It is therefore now of critical importance that tiger populations are monitored regularly to safeguard effectively the populations that still exist and that local communities play a key role in and benefit from tiger conservation. WWF Indonesia has been at the forefront of these efforts since the end of the last millennium and has asked us for assistance with tiger monitoring and to act as a showcase for how responsible, low-impact tiger tourism activities can generate local jobs and build capacity.
We are a multi-award winning (including multiple awards from Responsible Travel), not-for-profit organisation committed to running real wildlife conservation research expeditions to all corners of the Earth and says
Our projects are not tours, photographic safaris or excursions but genuine research expeditions, promoting sustainable conservation and preservation of the planet's wildlife by forging alliances between scientists and the public. Our goal is to make, through our expedition work, an active contribution towards a sustainable biosphere. We believe in empowering ordinary people by placing them at the centre of scientific study and by actively involving them out in the field, where there is conservation work to be done.
We always work in close conjunction with local people and scientists and try our best to ensure that the fruits of our expedition work benefit our local helpers, their society and the environment they live in. Adventure, remote locations, different cultures and people are part and parcel of our expeditions, but also the knowledge that you will have played an active role in conserving part of our planet's biosphere. We exist for those who, through their hands-on work, want to make a difference to the survival of the particular species or habitat under investigation, and to the world at large. We invite everyone to come and join us out in the field, at the forefront of conservation, to work, learn, experience and take responsible guardianship of our planet.
To achieve this we will wherever possible: + collaborate with reputable scientists, research institutions and educational establishments (wherever possible from the host nation) who are experts in their field + collaborate with organisations and businesses which operate in an ethical and/or sustainable way + operate in an ethical and sustainable way, minimising negative impacts on local cultures, environments and economies + publish results and recommendations based on collaborative work together with those who helped gather data and draw conclusions.
On this expedition our main partner is WWF-Indonesia whose mission it is to conserve biodiversity and reducing human impact. WWF-Indonesiaís ultimate goal is to stop and eventually reverse environmental degradation and to build a future where people live in harmony with nature. WWF-Indonesia currently runs a multitude of programmes throughout Indonesia in marine, freshwater and forest ecosystems. We assists WWF-Indonesia with its Sumatran tiger programme.
All missions are developed with local partners and scientists, as well as community representatives where appropriate. This consultation serves to minimise negative impacts on local cultures. This is often developed through a more complete integration into the local community, by working alongside them to achieve a conservation objective.
Accommodation varies from fixed camps, jungle lodges to tents. Where applicable, these will be owned locally.
Where possible food is sourced from locally supplied produce and ideally from organic sources.
Where applicable, team members are encouraged to spend their relaxation time using local facilities and resources.
We always work in close conjunction with local people and makes sure that the fruits of our work benefit local helpers, their society and the environment they live in.
Briefings before the start of the mission and leaders during the mission highlight relevant social issues and offer best practice examples to team members.