Since 2010, Taronga has worked in partnership with The Orangutan Project to support Wildlife Protection Units (WPUs) in the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. The Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem is critical habitat for iconic fauna such as Sumatran Elephants and Sumatran Tigers. To help secure a future for these species, the WPUs patrol and monitor the environment for signs of illegal activity including logging and poaching, and work actively with local communities to increase education and awareness in the region.
Every year the WPU wrap up their key achievements and for 2015 there were some major ones. The project partners were granted two Ecosystem Restoration Concessions in the buffer zone surrounding Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. This achievement is significant as the concessions will help ensure the conservation of critical habitat and limit encroachment on the National Park for up to 90 years. Employment opportunities also resulted from this achievement with the appointment of 41 new rangers that will join security teams assigned to monitor the Ecosystem Restoration Concessions. In addition, 90% of all fields and claimed forest blocks were mapped and land ownership claims registered for communities living inside the Ecosystem Restoration Concessions. The local communities are now becoming engaged in sustainable land management practices that will help establish stable incomes for the families in these areas.
A joint law enforcement patrol was conducted with members of the local police force and WPUs and resulted in the identification and capture of a wildlife trafficking syndicate that was seeking to sell a tiger skin from the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem. As part of the ongoing monitoring, 32 patrols were completed and resulted in the recording of:
128 incidents of illegal activity including land clearing (29), logging (93) and poaching (6); and 34 signs of key species including Sumatran Tiger (1), Asian Tapir (19), Sumatran Elephant (10) and Orangutan (4).
Camera traps are also used for monitoring wildlife and these identified thirty species of wildlife including rare and endangered species such as Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Elephant, Asiatic Wild Dog, Sunda Pangolin, Small-clawed Otters, Collared Mongoose and the extremely rare Otter Civet.
Many of the species observed at Bukit Tigapuluh are Taronga’s Centenary Legacy Species. The support to WPUs in Bukit Tigapuluh is one of the actions we are taking to secure their future.