In the olden days, the Sumatran people, such as those in Kerinci, Jambi Province, lived on stilt houses in harmony with faunal species, including tigers, Hizbullah Arief, communication and reporting staff of the Tiger Project of the UNDP Sumatra Tiger Management Unit, noted in Batam on the sidelines of a discussion on Sumatran tiger preservation efforts on Tuesday evening.
The people had applied local wisdom and led a life in harmony with the environment, he pointed out.
Sumatran tigers are still held in high regard until now, so they are called "datuk" and "ompunk," among others, commonly used to honor elderly people. Moreover, several Sumatrans also believe in the existence of "human tigers" and tigers that protect sacred places.
Legendary stories on tigers could help support the preservation of these Sumatran tiger species, he added.
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National Project Manager of the Sumatran Tiger Project Rudijanta Tjahja Nugraha noted that Sumatran tigers, the only tiger species surviving in Indonesia, currently live in 23 habitats in conservation areas and non-forest/non-conservation areas on Sumatra Island.
The Sumatran Tiger Project is currently being implemented in tiger conservation areas in the Mount Leuser National Park in Aceh; Kerinci Seblat National Park in West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu, South Sumatra; Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in Bengkulu, Lampung, and South Sumatra; and Berbak National Park in Jambi.
He highlighted that those national parks are crucial for the survival of Sumatran tigers.
Director of the Sintas Indonesia Foundation Hariyo T. Wibisono noted that in the earlier days, Indonesia was home to three tiger species, including the Bali tiger (Panthera tigris balica), which became extinct in 1940 and the Java tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) that became extinct in the 1980s.
In the 1970s, the number of Sumatran tigers had reached some one thousand, and the figure decreased to some 800 in the 1980s. Currently, the population is believed to lie between 400 and 600 heads.
Indonesia is in a state of emergency with regard to the use of animal traps currently, Wiratno, director general for natural resources and ecosystem conservation of the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, stated.
Poachers have set up some three thousand traps, including for Sumatran tigers in conservation forest areas. The ministry plans to organize a campaign against animal traps and has appealed to companies to uninstall their traps.
He also urged people to stop the hunting of boars, which are the prey of tigers.
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