The Bukit Tigapuluh Project
Camera trap surveys are implemented within the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape and are vital to enable the monitoring of the Sumatran tiger population. Currently, 12 adult tigers and three tiger cubs have been individually identified through camera trap photos. In addition, a total of 36 medium-sized and large mammal species have been detected, many of them belonging to rare and threatened species such as Asiatic wild dog, marbled cat, Sunda clouded leopard, Sumatran elephant and Sumatran orangutan. Bukit Tigapuluh has been identified to be among the priority landscapes for long-term tiger conservation in Sumatra.
Tiger poaching appears to be rare at this time, however, although tigers might be comparatively well protected from direct threats, their prey is not. New strategies are being found and implemented to decrease ungulate poaching in order to allow for higher tiger densities in the future.
In order to discriminate between individuals, tiger pictures were analyzed using unique stripe patterns and sex of the animals photographed. The resulting data was then analyzed using spatial capture-recapture models. These models estimate density accounting for the spatial distribution and movement of individuals. The probability to photograph an individual at a given trap is conditional on where that individual’s home range centre lies, relative to the trap array.
The Wildlife Protection Units (WPUs), entirely funded by TOP, are responsible for patrolling the Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP) National Park and buffer zone.
The main aims of the WPUs are -
- Establish, train and maintain ranger units to secure wildlife populations and their habitat at Bukit Tigapuluh.
- To stop and prevent illegal logging as the major threat to wildlife habitat.
- To actively assist the reintroduction/translocation of orangutans at Bukit Tigapuluh.
- To collect wildlife data in order to produce baseline data for a buffer zone management plan and a wildlife data base as an evaluation tool for ecosystem conditions at Bukit Tigapuluh.
The WPU have been highly successful in deterring illegal activities within the National Park including logging. They are responsible for educating local people about laws against poaching wildlife, gathering information about illegal activities and reporting these to the Forestry police and collecting wildlife data as an evaluation tool for ecosystem conditions at BTP.
Local people are employed as members of the WPU, giving good employment opportunities to local people and increasing the profile of the Sumatran tiger and its importance in the area. WPU members receive extensive training including first aid, wildlife crime investigation, survey techniques and report writing. To date, the WPUs have been highly successful in deterring illegal activities within the ecosystem.