Preventing Wildlife Conflicts, Saving Lifes

The Colt’s engine growling across the dirt road, partly still muddy, from the rain last night. The car whose two rear tires were wrapped around by chains moving slowly but steadily passing sloppy terrains.

Representatives from local government, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Police, TNI, Sumatran Tiger Project, philanthropic organization and non-governmental organizations sit – some of them standing – on the truck. “The more passengers, the truck becoming more stable on the road,” said the driver who guided our group.

This group has just finished attending village level Wildlife Conflict Task Force Meeting in Margomulyo Village, Semaka District, Tanggamus District, Lampung Province, organized by Wildlife Conservation Society – Indonesia Program (WCS-IP) supported by Sumatran Tiger Project , GEF, UNDP, KFW, German Cooperation and USAID.

WCS-IP in collaboration with Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park Office and Lampung Provincial Forest Service, gathered representatives of human and wildlife conflict mitigation task forces from various villages in Lampung, Bengkulu and Aceh.

Participants in this workshop shared knowledge and experiences in conflict mitigation and promote community-based human and wildlife conflict management approaches at site (village) level. The initiative also strengthened community’s resilient in regional and national platforms.

Indra Exploitasia, Director of Biodiversity Conservation, in her written address stated, “The shrinking living space and home range of large animals such as Sumatran elephant and Sumatran tiger ultimately forced the two species entering village areas and ultimately destroyed community’s farming and preyed on residents’ livestock. ”

According to Indra, strong institutional supports and effective role-sharing between parties are needed to overcome human and wildlife conflicts.

Technical implementation unit in the field responded positively to Indra’s remark. Siti Muksidah, Head of National Park Management Region I at Bukit Barisan Selatan NP stated, “We, at the national park, also placed the handling of human and animal conflicts (KMS) as one of our main priorities,” she said.

According to Siti, collaborating with communities, BB BBSNP has successfully handled 225 human and wildlife cases between 2008 and June 2019. One type of cooperation with community was to form a task force at the village level through Independent Village Community (MDM) program, accompanied by WCS- IP and supported by Sumatran Tiger Project.

Noviar Andayani, WCS-IP Director stated, “By strengthening KMS mitigation at site level, villagers could actively preventing escalation of human and animal conflict at site level by providing an appropriate initial responses.” Until mid-2019, WCS-IP and other parties has been facilitating 22 Independent Village Community units, including establishing task forces for conflict at site level.

The Deputy Governor of Lampung, Chusnunia Chalim, appreciated the workshop which took place on November 24-25. “Government realizes that human and wildlife conflict harming not only to citizens but also adversely affecting number and distribution of tiger and elephant populations which are charismatic animals of Sumatra,” he said.

As living creatures, wildlife and humans have the right to live. Thus we must be able to live side by side with other living creatures by preventing conflict and maintaining ecosystem balance.

“Without animals, the balance of ecosystem could not be materialized. Animals have function controlling pests and pollinating plants such as coffee that is community’s commodity,” Noviar Andayani said. Humans will not be able to do the task themself.

In this workshop, representatives of 16 Villages in Lampung, Bengkulu and Aceh Provinces also signed Margomulyo Declaration. They agreed to form a network of village-level human and wildlife conflict task forces throughout Sumatra.

This network will serve as communication and learning forum in overcoming conflict to help community’s welfare and wildlife conservation in Sumatra. Hopefully this good intention can continue to be implemented with the support of all parties.