The Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem (EB30), a national park with a broad forest buffer zone, comprises 3200 km2 of lowland and hill dipterocarp forest in the flood plains of central Sumatra.
Bukit Tigapuluh is renowned as one of the last refuges of many species of endangered wildlife, home to over 59 species of mammals, six species of primates, 192 species of birds and various species of butterflies. Home to at least 30 Sumatran Tiger, Bukit Tigapuluh has been identified as one of 20 critical habitats for global tiger survival, as well as Sumatran elephant and Sumatran rhino. Sumatran Elephant number approximately 150 which is a significant population in one of the species’ remaining strongholds.
Taronga has committed to long term (at least three years starting from 2010/11) support of Wildlife Protection Units in this valuable habitat.
Following the well-established community based Rhino Protection Units developed for the Way Kambas National Park (in southern Sumatra) in the 1990s (and later adopted in other areas and for other species), WPUs have been recruited, trained and equipped for Bukit Tigapuluh.
Six WPUs currently operate in the national park and Taronga has committed the seventh. The program will expand to 14 WPUs to cover the whole ecosystem.
WPUs address the primary threatening processes of illegal logging and poaching through community enforcement.
Key benefits of WPUs include:
- the confiscation of illegal timber and the destruction of logging camps and infrastructure;
- the gathering of evidence for poaching prosecution; and
- the presence of WPUs significantly deters loggers and poachers.