Sumatran tiger protection

The tiger is an iconic species, admired around the world for its beauty and strength. Sadly, this also makes it a lucrative target for the illegal wildlife trade. Every single part of a tiger – from its whiskers to its tail – can be traded and sold on the black market. We’ve lost over 95% of these endangered big cats since the start of the 20th century, and in 2010, their numbers plummeted to as few as 3,200. We’ve managed to halt the decline in recent years and are excited to say that, in 2016, for the first time in conservation history, the global population of wild tigers increased to an estimated 3,900.

This success is largely due to increased conservation efforts in the key countries that have seen an increase in their tiger numbers; countries such as India, Russia, Bhutan and Nepal. But, south-east Asian countries are still at imminent risk of losing their tigers if these governments do not take action immediately. This includes the Indonesian government. With only around 450 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, restricted to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, this subspecies is listed as critically endangered. It is holding on for survival in the remaining patches of forest on the island, where deforestation and poaching are still an ever present threat.

WWF has been working to protect Sumatran tiger habitat for over 20 years. There is competition for the use of land, with extreme pressure from the logging industry.

In 1995, they played a key role with other conservation groups in helping create Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, part of a landscape called ‘Thirty Hills`. This was a primary spot for tigers, and it is believed this landscape is currently home to about 30 Sumatran tigers.

By the start of this century, Sumatra had lost over half its forests, but Thirty Hills still contained amazing, intact forest. As the forest disappeared elsewhere in Sumatra, more and more biodiversity was moving into Thirty Hills, and demand for its resources increased.

The opportunity came when the Indonesian government created a new kind of concession, or lease, on government-owned forest land. We worked with the government to get critical parts of Thirty Hills re-zoned as a ‘conservation concession’. This required strong support in Indonesia which we gained from the former president, local political leaders, the provincial governor, communities and local people. The efforts were also supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The actor and WWF board member championed the cause and helped bring attention to the need to save Thirty Hills.

The Thirty Hills Company is now responsible for protecting its forest from illegal loggers and other threats – just like a logging company would be. The company has hired anti-poaching patrols and forest protection monitoring groups, and is now using small conservation drones to fly over the landscape to keep an eye out for poaching and illegal logging. The Thirty Hills Company has the responsibility to manage and protect this concession for at least 60 years.

Safeguarding Priority Orangutan Habitats – Indonesian Borneo

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of tropical forest loss in the world, and illegal logging and forest clearance for palm oil production is rife. The critically endangered Bornean Orangutan has been suffering from habitat loss as a result of conversion of forest to palm oil plantations and other agricultural developments, encroachment, illegal logging and forest fires.

This loss of habitat was aggravated during the last extreme El Nino dry season in 2015 that resulted in extensive loss of forest cover due to devastating forest fires. Increased patrolling in priority habitats to prevent illegal activities, increasing local capacity to deal with outbreaks of fires, restoring forest habitats through re=planting degraded areas and reintroducing rescued Orangutans back to the wild will all help to safeguard Orangutans and their forest habitats. All these activities will be conducted in collaboration with local stakeholders and authorized government agencies.

The project is located in Central Kalimantan Province, Indonesian Borneo. The main project site is the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve which was established in 1998. The other location is Tanjung Puting National Park. Both sites are priority habitats for Orangutan conservation and contain many endangered species including hornbills, eagles, Proboscis monkeys, gibbons and Clouded Leopard. Restore Our Planet has donated to the Orangutan Foundation to support their vital work to protect this area by preventing illegal logging, the arbitrary granting of palm oil concessions and the illegal clearance of land for palm oil by fire – all of which continue to threaten destruction of this precious habitat.

Safe habitat for Borneo’s orangutans

Bornean orangutans are critically endangered and their very existence hangs in the balance. Habitat loss and the illegal pet trade have depleted their numbers and urgent conservation action is needed to reverse the trend in population declines.

In 2008 Restore helped fund the lease of 86,450 hectares of rainforest in East Kalimantan, Borneo called Kehje Sewen, to keep this area from being sold to palm oil producers or logging companies. The first pioneer rehabilitated orangutans were released here from Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation rehabilitation centres in early 2012, and to date 68 orangutans have been reintroduced here. Simultaneously BOS Foundation commenced orangutan reintroductions in Central Kalimantan where over 200 orangutans have been released and the populations thriving. These are the most successful orangutan reintroduction programs in the world and this is a huge step towards establishing much needed viable and safe orangutan communities.

BOS Foundation focuses their efforts on long-term orangutan conservation managing the world’s largest orangutan rescue and rehabilitation centres in the world at Samboja Lestari in East Kalimantan and Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan to support orphaned or displaced orangutans. They also protect over 300,000 hectares of rainforest on Borneo in Mawas, which provides habitat to 3,000 orangutans, and as such is one of the last remaining strongholds for orangutans on Borneo. Their wider work covers projects such as reforestation as well as education and community development programmes to co-establish ways to work and live with the rainforest in a sustainable way. Restore’s funding to BOS Foundation, has helped BOS Foundation projects survive and thrive.