Coordinator of Forest Ecosystem Control of BKSDA Bengkulu-Lampung Said Jauhari stated here on Monday that based on last years observation and data gathered from human-animal conflict reports and patrol, it was estimated that the population of Sumatran tigers in Bengkulu reached 17.
The government has set a target to increase the population of Sumatran tigers by three percent every year, Jauhari noted.
However, fragmentation of the forest area due to illegal logging to make way for plantation areas and rampant poaching activities have become major challenges in the preservation of the Sumatran tiger population, Jauhari remarked.
Moreover, the conflict between humans and the big cat species is also high. Seluma District has recorded the highest incidents of human-tiger conflict, followed by North Bengkulu District.
"To increase the population of this critically endangered animal, we are prioritizing the protection of forests, which serve as their habitat," Jauhari pointed out.
Taman Buru Semidang Bukit Kabu, which covers an area of 9,000 hectares in Seluma District, is considered to be the home of the Sumatran tigers.
The BKSDA has prioritized a program to restore 1,500 hectares of land in the conservation area into a forest to provide a suitable habitat for the wildlife.
The local authority also proposed to the government to declare Taman Buru Semidang Bukit Kabu as a wildlife reserve area.
"Since there are other protected animals apart from the Sumatran tigers, such as siamang (an arboreal black-furred gibbon) and sun bears in the area," Jauhari stated.
By offering the right habitat, the population of the critically endangered species would increase and prevent them from becoming extinct, Jauhari added.
The Sumatran tiger is a rare sub-species that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The big cat has been listed as a critically endangered animal on the IUCN Red List, as its population is showing a declining trend.
The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving member of the Sunda Islands group of tigers that included the now extinct Bali tiger and Javan tiger.
Several studies have estimated that around 400 Sumatran tigers survive on the island of Sumatra.
(Reporting by Helti Marini Sipayung/Uu.A059/INE/KR-BSR/F001)