By Rebecca Foges
This month, FFI is focusing on the Sumatran tiger as part the International Year of Biodiversity. And what better way to start than with news from the field?
In November, FFI teams arrested two men – one a known tiger dealer, the second a professional poacher who also traded tigers – after a lengthy and dangerous undercover investigation by our tiger programme rangers.
The men had major links to the national and international wildlife trade. We know from past experience that arrests of this nature have a very significant deterrent effect on wildlife crime locally and in surrounding areas.
In December, a combined action between the FFI Tiger Protection & Conservation Programme and local police resulted in the third arrest of a tiger dealer and seizure of a second tiger skin. The man arrested had been under active surveillance since late 2008.
FFI’s Tiger Protection Conservation Unit (TPCU) investigators identified the area where the tiger is suspected to have been poached. They discovered and removed two tiger snares and then destroyed the poachers’ camp.
These arrests are proof that our efforts to combat illegal hunting and trading of tiger parts are working. We support five TPCUs which patrol the Kerinci Seblat National Park for illegal snares or habitat loss and help to settle any human-tiger conflict issues.
They also conduct routine undercover investigations into the wildlife trade around the park and take law enforcement action where crime is encountered.
In the last three years, tiger populations in Kerinci Seblat – in particular in areas patrolled and made safe by TPCU ranger units – have stabilized and are actually increasing in some areas.
Sadly, in recent months, TPCU patrols and investigations have noted an increase in attempted poaching and trafficking incidents. They are investigating the causes behind this.
The recent resurgence of threat emphasizes the urgency of FFI’s ongoing work in the area.