The UNDP Regional Office in Bangkok represented by Tashi Dorji, UNDP Regional Technical Advisor (RTA) along with teams from Sumatran Tiger Project, GEF, Bureau of Overseas Cooperation, Directorate of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, KLHK and UNDP Indonesia recently completed a visit to the landscape Bukit Barisan Selatan, which became one of the Sumatran Tiger Project sites.
The field trip was held for four days from 20-23 October 2017. On the first day, Friday, October 20, 2017, the team departed from Jakarta to Lampung followed by a road trip to Kota Agung, Tanggamus District, where the office of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (TN BBS) is located.
Agus Wahyudiono, Head of Central BBS and Ismanto, Head of Conservation Technique of BBS National Park together with NGO staff and partners warmly welcomed the team and discussed the conservation efforts in BBS National Park.
In the discussion, Agus said, cooperation with national park partners is very important because not all activities in National Park can be financed by State Budget (APBN). “Good cooperation with national park partners is needed to improve performance indicators for three key species; Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinoceros,” he said.
In addition to partnering with Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BB TN BBS), Sumatran Tiger Project also engaged with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in this landscape. Tashi Dorji and the team had the opportunity to visit the WCS office after discussing with BBS Central Park.
WCS has a Wildlife Response Unit (WRU) tasked with reducing human-tiger conflicts that occur in villages around the park. WCS also has a SMART patrol team that works with other stakeholders to monitor the BBS area. Sumatran Tiger project supports these initiatives.
The two discussions with partners became our opening events in Bukit Barisan Selatan landscape. Saturday morning, October 21, 2017, the next day, we had the opportunity to visit Way Canguk Research Station which is managed by WCS. The research station is located in the southern part of Bukit Barisan National Park.
In the journey to Way Canguk, we had to cross the big river and several small rivers, through the wilderness to reach this research center.
The trip to Way Canguk runs smoothly. On that day, we still can cross River Pemerihan on foot. WCS team, forest police, South Bukit Barisan National Park Center accompanied us along the way. It takes about two hours for all team members to reach Way Canguk Research Center.
The Way Canguk research center has four main buildings that serve as a place to stay, library, research location, as well as an office. One more building is used for “dining room” and kitchen. We arrived at the location in the pouring rain at around 12.00 at noon.
After the break and lunch, in the afternoon around 15:00, Tashi Dorji and team members walked back into the forest to observe plants and wildlife monitoring locations accompanied by WCS team, forest police and TN BBS team.
Along the way, Tashi and team members observed giant trees and traces of wildlife such as wild pigs, deer, met with owa and gibbons and saw the location of a hornbill nest which is increasingly threatened by poaching.
Tashi also had a taste of fresh water from the red roots that are often consumed by the forest patrol team as an alternative to clean fresh water source.
The WCS team at the Way Canguk Research Center has identified 348 tree species, 56 species of mammals (8 species of primates), 47 species of frogs, 7 species of reptiles and 207 species of birds that are part of the region’s biodiversity.
After visiting the WCS field observation center, we then returned to Way Canguk Research Station for discussion, rest and overnight. Heavy rain poured on Way Canguk earth Saturday night. The rain continued to flush until Sunday morning.
Worry about the condition of the Pemerihan River had becoming evident as the water of the Pemerihan River – that we could previously passed on foot – was flooding due to cats and dogs rain that flushed Way Canguk the night before.
However, WCS and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park team had prepared for this emergency situation. They were using inflated inner tube of tractor assisted by safety ropes to help all team members crossing the river. Crossing the river in the middle of a torrent stream became an unforgettable experience for all team members.
We recorded the scenes when team members were crossing the river. The video will be published in Sumatran Tiger communications network.
After successfully crossing the Sungai Pemerihan safely, we again walked to our first meeting point in the Village of Pemerihan to clean ourselves. Our clothes, pants and boots are all wet and dirty with mud. We also had to check the presence of leeches (Indonesian is pacet), blood-sucking animals, which stuck to our bodies. Thanks God, leeches were no longer be found as many as when we firstly arrived at Way Canguk Research Station the day before.
After cleaning up, Tashi and the rest of the team visited the Rhino Camp run by the Indonesian Badak Foundation and Pekon Margo Mulyo. In Pekon or Desa Margo Mulyo, WCS is working with the Sumatran Tiger Project to develop tiger-proof enclosures (TPE) to prevent tiger and wildlife conflicts. Livestock is one of important economic assets owned by the communities.
According to Firdaus Rahman, Landscape Program Manager of Bukit Barisan Selatan, WCS Indonesia Program, from the beginning of 2016 to October 2017, there had been 46 cases of human and tiger conflicts (HTC) in the villages around Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
Pak Sairin, villager who joined WCS TPE pilot program mentioned, wildlife conflicts did not only involving tigers, but also other wildlife species, like bears. “Bears often attack our cattle, sucking their blood to death,” he said. So the existence of TPE is very useful to reduce wildlife conflict.
Another benefit was expressed by Mrs. Sugiati, Pak Sairin’s wife. When wildlife failed to attack livestock in enclosed TPE cages, wildlife is less likely to return and look for other targets in other cages that have not yet implemented the TPE system. In effect, she and her children feel safer. “We are now no longer afraid to go out in the morning and evening for gardening, studying and other activities,” she said.
The Sumatran Tiger project until the end of the project period in 2020 will continue to work with stakeholders to increase conservation efforts in Bukit Barisan Selatan.
Synergy with WCS, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park Office, central government, local governments and communities are needed to create sustainable conservation solutions. We found these synergy evidences in our visit this time. A very memorable visit, indeed. To Way Canguk, we will return.